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12-hour standoff between armed suspect at hotel and Pinellas Sheriff's Office, SWAT ends in arrest

pinellas SWAT comfort inn.jpg
Posted at 5:29 AM, Apr 22, 2021

The armed suspect behind a 12-hour standoff at a hotel with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Pinellas Park Police, SWAT and negotiators has been arrested.

Police say the man, later identified as 49-year-old Walter Brois, made threats and refused to come out of the room at the Comfort Inn at 3910 Ulmerton Rd.

According to authorities, police initially received a call for a suspicious truck at the Sam's Club at 7001 Park Blvd. around 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

The first officer found the truck empty and realized that the tag on the truck didn't belong to it.

The first officer waited for backup but Brois and a woman came to the truck with groceries before backup arrived. The officer told Brois and the woman not to approach the truck, but police say he jumped in the driver's side and turned it on.

According to police, the officer got into the passenger's seat and struggled with Brois. He then took off and police said the officer fought with him as the truck was moving, including tasering him.

Eventually, police said the officer fell out of the truck and other responding officers followed the truck. The first officer suffered some minor injuries, including road rash.

Police said Brois was driving erratically and officers eventually lost him during the pursuit.

Police searched parking lots and found the truck at the Comfort Inn around 10:15 p.m. Management confirmed Brois was in a room on the fourth floor.

Authorities evacuated the entire hotel and tried to communicate with Brois to get him to come out, knowing that he was armed with a handgun.

During a press conference, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said they had probable cause to arrest Brois due to him having warrants in two counties, one for assaulting a woman and the other for assaulting a police officer in a different incident.

"Let me just tell you a little about Brois. Here we go again. This is astonishing as to why somebody like this is on the street, why he's out here engaging in this type of conduct. This guy has been arrested, at 49 years old, 41 times on 142 separate charges. He's been convicted of 38 different felonies and 10 different misdemeanors. And in his life, he's spent 13 years in the state prison system. 13 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. Most recently, he did 11 years, and he was released on Oct. 27 of 2020," Gualtieri said.

After Brois told authorities he was not going to come out of the room, SWAT "walked through a number of options trying to get him out."

"Our goal, always, is to do this in the most safe way possible with no harm to anybody including him," Gualtieri said. "So it is amazing that we deployed over 50 rounds of tear gas into that room over a several-hour period and it didn't affect him at all."

Eventually, authorities used small explosions to breach the door Brois had barricaded with furniture and used a drone to see where in the room he was located.

"He was in the room, hunkered down, wrapped multiple times in sheets laying on the bed," described Gualtieri.

Gualtieri said after Brois did not comply with demands, SWAT used bean bag rounds to shoot him, and then take him into custody.

Ulmerton Road was closed from 49th Street to Feathersound Drive during the standoff, but was reopened after Brois was arrested.

Brois, who was uninjured, is facing several charges.

The police department shared this video of the initial interaction at the Sam's Club.