A Georgia family returning home Wednesday after traveling over the holidays found their locks changed by a new occupant who had hunkered down inside, police said.
Janice Henson told Atlanta's WSB-TV that she called police when the key to her Cobb County home wouldn’t turn, and a man in a wheelchair came to the door to tell her to leave. It was his home now, he said.
He also claimed he had a gun, Cobb County police told WSB-TV. He allegedly threatened to shoot at officers.
The bizarre encounter set off a five-hour stalemate with police and SWAT officers. The SWAT unit eventually rammed the front door down and sent in a robot to locate the man inside the house, the news station reported.
The man, identified by police as 26-year-old Nathaniel Jacob Nuckols of Canton, surrendered peacefully. Police never found a weapon, according to WSB-TV.
When Henson surveyed the damage, she found evidence of Nuckols’ residence. Some of their belongings had been moved. All their food was gone.
“He also left us notes thanking us for the key and thanking us for letting him live here, and it was his house now,” Henson told WSB-TV. “He moved all the pictures, emptied drawers. He was making this house his.”
Henson said she did not know how long Nuckols was occupying the house. Her family was staying at a local hotel until they can put their home back in order, WSB-TV reported.
He was arrested on felony charges of first-degree burglary and terroristic threats and a misdemeanor charge of obstruction. He was being held in the Cobb County jail in lieu of $33,220 bond.