Violent felon captured in Pasco County swamp off SR-52

Sheriff: Terrain is swampy, full of snakes
Posted at 3:14 PM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-10 17:29:38-04


Deputies captured wanted fugitive Brandon Goggins around 11:30 a.m. Friday. According to Pasco County deputies, an alert citizen spotted him in a swamp area near State Road 52 and called 911.

One witness said the young man who spotted the suspect went and tackled him and dragged him into a more clear area where deputies could quickly surround him and make the arrest.

Sheriff Nocco said the suspect was bragging about how long he made it without getting caught.

The suspect was cut up pretty badly from hiding in the brush throughout the night and received treatment at a nearby hospital after his arrest. 

The suspect claims he did not have a weapon, and Sheriff Nocco said officials have yet to find any weapons at the scene.


Detectives arrested 40-year-old Vicki Lee Valentin, who authorities say was driving the vehicle with Goggins inside Thursday when the initial pursuit began. She was charged with driving with a suspended license, but could face more charges as the investigation unfolds. 

Sheriff Nocco said Valentine claims Goggins had a gun to her head. He also said it's likely they knew each other, but it's unclear exactly what their relationship may have been prior to the incident. 


The Pasco County Sheriff's Office currently has SR-52 shut down near Hays Road for an intense manhunt for an armed fugitive.

Deputies are searching for Brandon Goggins.  (Pictured above)

He has several warrants for his arrest, including one for grand theft auto. He was just released from prison in March after serving a year and a day for similar crimes.

Sheriff Chris Nocco said the manhunt started earlier Thursday afternoon when detectives spotted a car stolen late Sunday or early Monday morning from Factory Auto Direct, located at 25206 Wesley Chapel Boulevard, Lutz. The suspect/s cut the lock and chain off of the chain link fence. Once inside the dealership lot, the suspect/s pried open a window with a crow bar and entered the portable trailer used as an office and also removed several sets of keys to vehicles on the lot.

After a chase of more than 100 miles per hour, Nocco said Goggins ditched the car in Safety Town. His girlfriend was still inside when deputies got on scene.  She said Goggins was armed and dangerous and would kill law enforcement before he would go back to prison.

"We know he is part of a white supremacist group and is a violent felon," Nocco said. "We are going to hunt this person down and throw every resource we have at him. People need to stay in their homes. I know it is tough for kids but please keep them inside.

Nocco said neighboring Hillsborough and Hernando County law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search. As well as, the Florida Wildlife Commission. The area is heavily wooded swampland. It is taking K-9 and deputies 15-20 minutes just to travel 30 yards through waist deep murky waters.

“It's dangerous for our members as we are hunting him down, there are alligators, and a lot of water moccasins,” Nocco said.  

With nightfall, Nocco said it will be easier for the Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) to spot Goggins’ heat signature in the swamp.  But, the danger for deputies on the ground is extremely high because at any moment Goggins could get the drop on them, and he has already threatened to not go peacefully.

Deputies are asking residents in the area to call 911 immediately if you see him.

Late Thursday night the dive team and FWC came in with boats to check surrounding ponds.

“We have to check and see if he could’ve gotten stuck,” Nocco said.  

This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.