NAVARRE — The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office has completed its investigation of a Dec. 16 stabbing.
The SRSO’s Major Crimes Division on Jan. 20 submitted its finished files to the Florida State Attorney’s Office to determine culpability. The SAO expects it will take several weeks to complete the review.
Sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene of a stabbing last month to find chaos.
Hordes of teenagers, their night of socializing around a bonfire in a secluded wooded area violently interrupted, fled the scene in panic.
"Upon arrival, I observed a large amount of vehicles (primarily lifted trucks with 4x4 capabilities) leaving the area with haste," one deputy reported.
A driver flagged down another deputy to tell him he “had a stabbing victim in the bed of his truck." The deputy grabbed a first aid kit and told friends of Daniel Bubanas to apply pressure to his wounds until help arrived, according to an incident report.
He then went to help another stabbing victim, identified as Cole Tolbert, who was in the passenger seat of another vehicle.
Bubanas, 18, didn't survive the night. He was pronounced dead 11:20 p.m. in Baptist Hospital in Pensacola’s emergency room.
Tolbert, 17, suffered "major" injuries, Sheriff's Office incident reports said. He also was taken to Baptist where he underwent surgery. Hospital officials said that Tolbert is no longer under their care.
A third person suffered minor injuries, the reports said.
Sheriff's investigators moved quickly in the days after the fatal stabbing to identify a suspect.
"We have identified the person responsible for the deadly stabbing," a news release sent Dec. 21 said. "… The focus of the investigation has shifted from identification of suspects to the circumstances surrounding the use of force.”
Officials have released little information since then.
Multiple incident reports indicate that deputies who deployed to the scene — "a dirt road by the power lines past Clay Circle and River Birch Road" off East Bay Boulevard west of Navarre — reacted quickly to get medical help for the stabbing victims and to contain the crime scene in the middle of the woods and round up witnesses.