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The Villages
Friday, March 24, 2023

Villager’s daughter once jailed for threatening neighbors with shotgun back behind bars

Heather Lynn Saunders

A Villager’s daughter who was jailed in September for allegedly pointing a shotgun at her neighbors is back behind bars.

Heather Lynn Saunders, 33, who lives with her father in the Village of Country Club Hills, was arrested Sunday night after a Marion County sheriff’s deputy spotted her driving erratically in the parking lot of the Summerfield Wal-Mart, located at 17961 S. U.S. Hwy. 27/441, a sheriff’s office report states.

The deputy was pumping gas at the Murphy gas station at Wal-Mart when he observed a white 2010 Ford Mustang doing “donuts” in the parking lot on the north side of the store near the tire center. The deputy said the vehicle lost traction and squealed its tires, then went in reverse and started backing up at a high rate of speed while fishtailing.

Saunders exited the vehicle and walked toward the north side of the plaza near Wal-Mart and then got back into the Mustang and accelerated at an “extremely high rate of speed.” She then slammed on the brakes, “squealing” into a parking spot in front of the GameStop store at 11275 S.E. 178th Pl., #4,” the report says.

As the deputy exited the gas station, Saunders “peeled out” at the traffic light exiting Wal-Mart onto S. U.S. Hwy. 27/441. The deputy was notified that the sheriff’s office’s dispatch center had received 911 calls about the way Saunders was driving.

The deputy activated his emergency lights and initiated a traffic stop. He made contact with Saunders, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle. She claimed the Mustang was new to her and the boots she was wearing were “heavy,” the report says.

The deputy reported smelling a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from the Mustang. Saunders claimed there was no marijuana inside her vehicle but the deputy found what appeared to be a green leafy substance and stems on the floorboard of the driver’s seat. He also found a cigarette cellophane wrapper that contained a green leafy substance in the passenger door in the general area where Saunders was reaching for her registration and insurance card, the report says, adding that the green leafy substances tested positive for THC/marijuana.

After being read her rights, Saunders “became hostile and uncooperative.” She struggled with the deputy and kept turning away as he attempted to place her in handcuffs, the report says.

Saunders was eventually take into custody and transported to the Marion County Jail, where she was charged with possession of marijuana not more than 20 grams. She was being held on $1,000 bond and her next court date hasn’t yet been set, jail records show.

Heather Saunders’ booking mugshot from September 2020.

Saunders was arrested last year after two neighbors who were sitting in a swing claimed that she came at them in an “aggressive manner,” according to an arrest report from the Lady Lake Police Department. She allegedly “racked” a shotgun and dared the women to call the police. The women ran into the house and took cover by the cabinets on the kitchen floor.

Police officers arrived a short time later and ordered Saunders at gunpoint to put down the black Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. The shotgun and its ammunition were seized by the officers and Saunders was handcuffed and found to be in possession of two pocket knives, one in her boot and the other in the pocket of her jeans. Saunders, who appeared to be “extremely intoxicated,” started crying and told officers she wasn’t going to hurt the women, the report says.

In November, Saunders retained local criminal defense attorney Jaimie Washo Spivey. She has a strong track record of negotiating successful outcomes for clients, including getting a well-known fitness trainer’s drug charges thrown out, winning an acquittal in a Villages couple’s son’s stalking case and helping a Villager escape prosecution in a battle with her husband over pickleball. Saunders had been represented by the public defender’s office before hiring Spivey, court records show.

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