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SWAT team raids wrong house, tackles wrong man

CNN logo CNN 5/25/2018 By Gianluca Mezzofiore and Amanda Watts, CNN
a close up of a door © WDEF

Armed with a federal search warrant, weapons, body armor and flash-bang grenades, DEA agents and members of the Bradley County SWAT team crept up to a house in Cleveland, Tennessee, before dawn Tuesday and then burst inside.

As they swept the entryway, they detonated the grenades and smoke filled the first floor.

Then they opened the basement door and found a man with a gun. They tackled him and told him he was under arrest, wanted for murder.

Except... it was the wrong house and the wrong man.

Spencer Renck says his alarm had just gone off and he was getting up to go to work when he heard the noises upstairs. He grabbed his gun "to protect (his) family from whatever was happening."

"I thought someone had broke in," he said in a post on Facebook, recounting the incident. His wife and four children were also in the house.

He went up the basement stairs to see what was going on.

Spencer Renck talked about the wrong-house raid in a Facebook post. © WDEF Spencer Renck talked about the wrong-house raid in a Facebook post.

"As soon as they open the door I turned around, seen all those guns to pointed at me," Renck told CNN affiliate WDEF.

That's when he was tackled, he said, and it took a few minutes before the agents and SWAT team realized they had the wrong address.

"They destroyed my door, door frame, carpet on my stairs blew my ceiling out and burned my living room floor and hallway. All because someone got the wrong house," Renck wrote on the Facebook post.

He said after they realized their mistake, the agents went to his neighbor's house.

Renck said that during the raid, one flash-bang grenade went through the open doorway of his young son's bedroom, and it "blinded and deafened" him.

Now, Renck told WDEF, his son is "worried about how he's going to sleep at night and he's wondering if he's going to have nightmares when he had guns drawn in his room, waking up to a big bang."

CNN has reached out to Renck for comment.

In a statement to CNN, a DEA representative confirmed that agents conducted the raid on the wrong residence.

"On May 22, 2018, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Louisville Field Division and the Bradley County Sheriff's Office served a federal search warrant at an address associated with an individual wanted for murder who was also a target in an ongoing heroin investigation," the statement reads.

"This operation was a part of a larger ongoing investigation. Unfortunately, this search warrant was initially served on the wrong residence... situations such as these are tragic and DEA takes them very seriously. We intend to look into this matter further and take steps to ensure situations such as this never occur again."

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the incident, spokesman Josh DeVine told CNN.

"At the request of 10th District Attorney General Stephen Crump, TBI Agents are investigating the actions of law enforcement officers from the Bradley County Sheriff's Office while executing a warrant earlier this week. Preliminary information indicates the deputies appear to have initially entered the wrong home," DeVine said in a statement.

CNN has reached out to Bradley County Sheriff's office but hasn't heard back.

The cause of the mix-up is not clear, but Renck told WDEF that agents said his house and car looked similar to those of the suspect.

"I had a Yukon and a Camry. And they said, 'you had a white car so we just got your house. It looked similar,'" Renck said.


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