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Aug 8, 2023

Convicted felon in possession of firearms and shooting into Bartow neighborhood arrested after standoff with PCSO SWAT team

The Polk County Sheriff's Office SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team took 33-year-old Victor Garcia (DOB 2/15/1990) peacefully into custody in the Citrus Highlands Drive East area of unincorporated Bartow after a several-hour-long standoff with the armed and barricaded suspect.

Garcia, who is a convicted felon, was in possession of an AR-15 and magazines holding several hundred rounds of ammunition, as well as a loaded Smith & Wesson M&P pistol.

Around 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Monday, August 7, 2023, the PCSO received 911 calls from residents in the area reporting that Garcia was outside in the neighborhood yelling and firing a handgun into the air and the ground. Residents reported hearing at least 8 gunshots. Before PCSO deputies arrived, Garcia went into his house at 303 Citrus Highlands Drive East. Upon deputies' arrival, they repeatedly ordered Garcia, in both English and Spanish, to come outside and he refused. Deputies established a perimeter and advised the neighbors to stay indoors.

During the investigation, deputies learned that Garcia is a convicted felon. Family members confirmed he had firearms in the home, and along with the testimony of witnesses that he was discharging a firearm in the area along with the spent shell casings found on the ground, they obtained a warrant for his arrest for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, unlawful discharge of a firearm in a residential area, unlawful display of a firearm, culpable negligence, and resisting arrest. The PCSO SWAT team responded to the scene.

After several hours of negotiating with Garcia to surrender, around 5:00 p.m. the SWAT team introduced chemical agent into the home, and he came outside and was taken into custody without incident. He was additionally charged with operating unpermitted landfill, unpermitted waste tire collection, unlawful disposal of dead animal, possession of marijuana, and other crimes related to the extreme amount of trash, waste, and burned items in his yard. Deputies seized the firearms and ammunition from his house. He was booked into the Polk County Jail and will have a first appearance hearing on Tuesday, August 8, 2023.

"We're very grateful that nobody was injured during this event, and that the people who live in the area saw something, and said something. We will work hard to ensure Victor Garcia is held accountable for his reckless and dangerous actions yesterday." - Grady Judd, Sheriff