PLANT CITY, Fla. - It was more than mere men that tracked a pair of fugitives a half mile through a dark swamp in 45-degree weather. It took Deuce the dog to find, bite, and detain the suspects as deputies sloshed their way through a wet field in Plant City.
Deuce risked his life to chase the armed suspects, who were hiding underwater in the swamp, as both men had guns.
"What goes through my mind is I hope that the dog gets a hold of these guys and they decide not to shoot my dog or myself," said deputy Charles Perdomo, who's assigned to Deuce in the K-9 division of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Deuce was able to maintain a scent through the water and find each suspect, one at a time. The dog's success searching helped deputies arrest 19-year old Joshua Coleman of Brandon, and 34-year old Charles Smith of Dover.
The two men are accused of showing up at 4202 Cooper Road at 11:30 Thursday night, shooting three people, and striking a fourth. Deputies spotted a Maroon SUV that appeared to be making a getaway, and they chased it into the swamp, where the suspects took off on foot.
That's where Deuce took over. The dog set off into the darkness, found one of the men hiding in the water, and promptly clamped its jaws onto a shoulder until Perdomo ordered the suspect released by the animal. Deuce repeated the process for the second suspect
"He's mostly a locator tool," Perdomo said. "We're not really into biting people," he said, but in this case Deuce found the measure necessary.
Smith and Coleman are charged with armed home invasion, aggravated battery, felony possession of a firearm, grand theft of a motor vehicle, and resisting arrest without violence. They were taken to the Hillsborough County Jail.
The three shooting victims suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Perdomo said he was proud of his partner's work. "They do a good job," he said of the K-9 unit.
And for that, Deuce was rewarded.
"I usually buy him a sausage biscuit on the way home," Perdomo said.
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The rest of the week looks like our normal summer pattern with heat, humidity and high chances for afternoon downpours.