Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have arrested a Leesburg man on child pornography charges.
John Edward Shearen, 51, downloaded and distributed the largest amount of child pornography in the state of Florida, FDLE agents say.
Investigators raided Shearen's home in the Lakepointe Apartments on Thursday morning. FDLE agents and police from Leesburg and Fruitland Park started investigating Shearen in March.
FDLE Special Agent Jeffrey Duncan said Shearen had an excess of 500,000 to one million images of child pornography in his home when he was arrested. Investigators said Shearen downloaded images and videos of children who were between six to 12 years old.
Duncan noted that, upon entering Shearen's apartment, agents discovered that, "He (Shearen) was actually downloading child porn and sharing child porn online."
Agents said Shearen first appeared on their radar last month after he downloaded images and video from certain websites they monitor on a regular basis. Duncan said Shearen also had an extensive collection of DVDs.
Agents are unsure if Shearen had contact with children. They found children's clothing in his apartment.
"One of our concerns is we located several items, outerwear of juvenile girls, including bathing suits, in the residence," said Duncan. "Our concern is, number one, making sure we don't have any child victims in this area."
Robby Pinder lives in Shearen's complex off Wild Harbour Lane, and said he hung out with Shearen.
"He never let anyone in his house," Pinder said.
The young father also added that while Shearen kept to himself, he seemed harmless.
"I have no love for somebody like that," said Pinder. "I liked him as a human being. He seemed like he was alright, but you don't know somebody until you get to know them."
Lakeside Pointe property managers distributed and posted fliers today that warned residents about the arrest.
"Actually, I'm relieved," said Christina Rodriguez, who lives in the complex. "I have a four year old and he likes to run around and play around, and just the thought of a guy being that dangerous."
Agents said Shearen admitted his crimes to investigators. He also told agents they were arresting him on his 51st birthday, although records show he was born on April 2.
Agents said Shearen does not have a criminal record. Neighbors said Shearen told them he was in the navy.
Shearen is being held at the Lake County jail without bond.
Shearen faces 15 counts of distributing child pornography and 15 counts of possessing child pornography. Agents said he could also face other charges. The investigation will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 5th Judicial Circuit.