Joel Hooten of Coral Springs, Florida surrendered himself to authorities earlier this week for his alleged involvement in a courthouse break-in. Hooten was charged with burglary and is being held in lieu of $15,000 bond. News reports did not specify a lawyer for Hooten.
Hooten, 35, turned himself in after Broward Sheriff’s Office released surveillance footage of the break-in on Monday. The surveillance video shows a one-handed man who looks like Hooten breaking into a courthouse on 1600 W. Hillsboro Boulevard last Sunday.
The surveillance video shows a man resembling Hooten smashing a glass door with a baseball bat and entering the building at 8:57 a.m. A detective from the sheriff’s department said over 30 surveillance cameras purportedly captured Hooten, bat in hand, walking inside the courthouse for around an hour. It is unclear if anything in the courthouse was stolen.
According to the arrest report, Hooten is a painter under the employ of Broward County Public Schools. He allegedly told detectives that he went to the courthouse on Sunday for an overtime work assignment and had forgotten his belongings inside, which was why he returned to reclaim them, but he later realized he had not left anything in the courthouse.
A Broward Public Schools representative told news reporters that Hooten was originally hired in 2004 and was laid off in 2010. Hooten was rehired in 2014, but his current employment status was not immediately available.
Court records show Hooten has no prior felonies, and detectives are still unsure why Hooten allegedly broke into the courthouse. During Hooten’s first court appearance on Tuesday, Assistant Public Defender Faisal Afzal told Broward Judge John Hurley that Hooten’s act of surrendering should work in his favor.