PCSO's newest canine, Kony, who belongs to veteran K-9 Deputy Sheriff Kurt Walker, made his first apprehension last night just minutes after a car was stolen in Lakeland. Their apprehension was the fourth PCSO K-9 apprehension in a 24-hour period.
Around 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5, 2011, a man went into the Circle K store located at 1026 Walt Williams Road in Lakeland, leaving his car keys in the ignition. The suspect, identified as 23-year-old Justin Harris of Wilder Road in Plant City, was outside the store and took the victim's car as soon as the victim walked into the store. Harris fled in the car, driving north on Walt Williams Road. The victim reported the car theft and PCSO deputies immediately responded to the area.
Within minutes of arriving on-scene, deputies spotted the car heading towards North Socrum Loop Road. Patrol deputies followed the car and reported its whereabouts to the responding backup K-9 team (D/S Kurt Walker and Kony) and the PCSO helicopter. The suspect drove through the Sandpiper subdivision, onto the golf course fairway, and stopped the car next to a pond. The suspect, Harris, then jumped out of the car and jumped into the pond in his continued attempt to elude law enforcement.
D/S Walker, canine Kony, and Deputy Sheriff Bobby Boehmler entered into the water behind Harris, giving him orders to surrender. Harris refused, and continued to swim out into the pond and duck underwater. Kony and Deputy Walker followed. The helicopter remained overhead, reporting Harris' movements to the deputies on the ground. Deputy Walker was waist-deep in the water as Kony tracked Harris' scent. Kony located Harris' head just under the water's surface, and bit him on the head. Harris still did not surrender. Kony then bit Harris' arm and held onto it until Deputies Walker and Boehmler could pull him out of the water and onto land, where he continued to resist arrest. D/S Boehmler deployed his agency-issued Taser, and Harris began to comply. Boehmler then placed handcuffs on him and took him to LRMC to be treated for his dog bite wounds.
Harris has been to prison twice on theft and fleeing to elude charges. He is now charged with DWLSR, Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft of a Firearm (there was a handgun inside the car he stole), and Resisting Arrest.
Two other K-9 teams tracked and safely located four other suspects on Wednesday, October 5th:
Around noon that day, PCSO received information from the Apopka Police Department that a suspect with an Attempted Murder warrant out of Orange County, 26-year-old Shannon Simons of 505 S. Washington Avenue in Apopka, was in a residence in Poinciana. PCSO deputies responded to 303 Churchill Court in Poinciana, where Simons' girlfriend resides. Nobody would come to the door, although deputies had information from Apopka P.D. that both were inside the home, per the girlfriend who was text-messaging an Apopka P.D. detective. Deputies surrounded the home and began negotiations over a loudspeaker. The girlfriend came out of the house and told deputies that the suspect was still inside the home but she did not know where.
After ordering Simons several times to come out, PCSO deputies made entry into the home, including K-9 team Deputy Sheriff Steve McDonald and canine Aztec. Aztec tracked Simons' scent and located him hiding in an air conditioning vent. He was apprehended without incident and booked into the Polk County Jail on the Orange County charges, and with one count Resisting Arrest Without Violence.
Meanwhile, K-9 team Deputy Sheriff Jody Gill and canine Shea responded to a suspicious incident on Combee Road in south Lakeland where neighbors had reported a white pick-up truck parked outside a vacant home near the meter box. Deputies responded and demanded the suspects inside come out - they refused. D/S Gill opened the front door of the home and gave a verbal warning to the suspects that if they did not come out, he was releasing the barking canine, Shea. The suspects yelled out that they were surrendering, and did not want to be apprehended by the dog. The suspects were taken into custody peacefully. Evidence showed they were in the process of stealing copper wire from the meter box.
After this successful arrest, D/S Gill and Shea responded to Old Bartow-Eagle Lake Road near Crossover Road in Gordonville to assist with a hit-and-run crash. The vehicle involved in the crash had been left abandoned along the roadway, with a suspect nowhere in sight. Witnesses saw a black male running away from the scene. Shea tracked the suspect's scent from the abandoned car to a wooded area, through a swamp, and to a residence on Old Bartow-Eagle Lake Road. Shea then located an unknown black male suspect hiding in some bushes, dripping wet. The suspect matched the description of the man seen running away from the crash, and was positively identified as the hit-and-run driver.
"These are some great examples of the wonderful job our K-9 teams do every day to keep the people of Polk County safe. And here's some advice to our citizens: don't leave your keys inside your vehicles.....and if you make the mistake of committing a crime and find yourself being tracked by one of our canines, do the smart thing and give up. Otherwise, you're liable to get bit, and from what I'm told, it hurts real bad." - Sheriff Grady Judd