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News and Investigations

News & Investigations

News Releases and Public Information

Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.

PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at

The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.

Mar 28, 2023

Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigating fatal shooting of Bartow man on a dirt bike

Media Contact: Brian Bruchey, PIO

A 34-year old man from the Gordon Heights area of Bartow was fatally wounded by a single gunshot Sunday afternoon, March 26, 2023 while he was on a dirt bike, and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is still working to identify and arrest the shooter.

At about 2:09 pm, deputies were dispatched to a reported dirt bike crash on Wheeler Street, northeast of Bartow. First responders arrived and discovered the crash victim had a gunshot wound. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased. 

An autopsy of the victim on Monday revealed that a bullet entered the victim’s lower right back and traveled through his kidney, diaphragm, and lung. 

Witnesses told PCSO detectives they heard at least one gunshot in the area.

“At this early stage of the investigation, we don’t know why the victim was murdered. Somebody out there has information, even the smallest detail that could help us capture the killer. A family has lost a loved-one, and we need to bring his killer to justice.”- Grady Judd, Sheriff

Anyone with any information about this murder should contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200. Anonymous tips can be made to Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477), and if an arrest is made based on a tip, the tipster would be eligible for a $3,000 reward.