Santa Rosa County - Airplane helps FWC officer find violator deep in woods
Officer Howard Jones was on ATV patrol in a remote closed area of the Eglin Air Force Base WMA. He found and followed ATV tracks to a tree stand, which had corn and a mineral lick on the ground nearby. Officer Jones then followed the ATV tracks from the location for some distance, but lost the sign in dense woods. At his request, an FWC airplane arrived and an aerial search was conducted. The pilot located an ATV hidden in dense cover and directed the officer to it. Officer Jones located foot tracks at the ATV, and the pilot continued a search in the tracks’ direction of travel. A K-9 squad from the Okaloosa Department of Corrections responded to the area, as well as officers of the Eglin Range Patrol, and Investigator Jim Hughes, Officer Pete Rockwell, and Lt. Philip Glover. The pilot located a vehicle about 1-˝ miles away, and the officers made contact when a man walked out of the woods to the vehicle. During a subsequent interview, the individual admitted to placing the tree stand and bait on the management area, hunting in the closed area, and leaving the ATV. The equipment was seized and charges are pending.
Escambia County - DUI Arrest
Lt. Dan Hahr was conducting enhanced patrol in the Escambia River WMA at Cotton Lake when he observed a vehicle stop and then spin out, creating ruts in the clay road. He turned around and caught up to the vehicle. He conducted a traffic stop and observed unusual movement in the cab. When Hahr approached the vehicle, he observed the man he saw driving just moments earlier now sitting in the back seat and a woman sitting in a puddle of ice and liquid in the driver seat.
When asked why he was in the back seat, the man answered that he was driving and had just jumped back there. Lieutenant Hahr detected obvious indicators of impairment in both subjects. He determined that the woman knocked over two mixed drinks in the driver seat as she slid over the console into the driver seat. The man admitted to driving despite the fact that he has not had a driver license in 20 years and had been in prison for driving with a suspended driver license. Lt. Brian Lambert and Officer Matt Cushing arrived on scene to assist. After performing very poorly on field sobriety tasks, the driver was arrested for DUI and driving while license suspended or revoked. The driver was transported to the Escambia County Jail where he provided a breath sample resulting in .150g/210L. The driver was also issued a citation for driving with an open container of alcoholic beverages. The woman was warned and released.
Okaloosa County - Seized firearm in the hands of a convicted felon
Officer Ken White and Investigator Ryan Nelson met with a subject at the Eglin Air Force Base WMA check station regarding an illegal deer that was taken in a restricted antler area. It was later determined that the deer was legally harvested in another area that had no antler restrictions, but a computer check revealed the subject was a convicted felon, and his rights to possess a firearm had not been restored. His firearm was seized and charges for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon will be direct-filed with the State Attorney’s Office.