Man accused of fatally shooting new next-door neighbor after backing U-Haul into townhouse

Christian Gage Freebourn

TAMPA, Fla. — A west-central Florida man is accused of fatally shooting a man who was going to be his next-door neighbor after backing his U-Haul into a townhouse balcony, authorities said.

According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office online booking records, Christian Gage Freebourn, 28, of Lithia, was arrested on June 21 on a charge of second-degree murder.

Freebourn is accused of fatally shooting Herbert Harris, 57, of Lithia, outside his home in the Kinglet Ridge community of Lithia, located 22 miles east of downtown Tampa, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

According to Hillsborough County online court records, Freebourn claimed he shot Harris in self-defense, adding that his new neighbor had approached him with a gun. He made his first appearance in court on Monday and pleaded not guilty to the charge, records show.

Deputies with the sheriff’s office responded to a shooting at about 9:40 p.m. on May 10, the Times reported. Offiicals arriving at the scene discovered Harris on the ground suffering from gunshot wounds to his head and body, according to the newspaper.

Harris died at the scene.

An autopsy revealed that Harris had five gunshot wounds, one in the eye, two in the neck, one in the leg and one in the upper chest, the Times reported, citing an arrest affidavit.

According to the newspaper, Harris’ girlfriend said they were inside their townhome when they heard a loud bang. They looked out of a window and saw that the balcony of their residence had been struck by a U-Haul truck that was parked in their neighbor’s driveway.

The two men allegedly got into an argument, and Freebourn allegedly lifted his shirt to reveal and handgun in his waistband.

Freebourn allegedly told deputies that Harris said he would have to pay for the damages and agreed to do so, but the victim “continued to be upset and argue with him,” the Times reported.

Freebourn allegedly said that Harris “came forward” toward him several times and then approached him with his arms raised in a “bear-hug like” motion. Freebourn said he drew his weapon and fired, striking Harris “three to four times,” according to the arrest affidavit.

Freebourn was being held Monday without bond. A hearing is set for Tuesday to determine whether bail will be allowed, according to online court records.

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