Crime and Public Safety

By Tamas Mondovics

It was once again time for Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office special K9 unit deputies and their partners to take center stage by taking a bite out of crime earlier this month.

According to HCSO detective Larry McKinnon, on Thursday, November 8, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Charles Vernon Smith, Jr., 34, of Dover and Joshua Seth Coleman, 19 of Brandon, kicked in the back door of the residence located at 4202 Cooper Road in Plant City.

Upon entering the home, Smith and Coleman shot three victims and beat a fourth victim with a gun, deputies said. The victims, all of Plant City residents included Andrew Burgess, 47, Jesse Kinsinger, 18, Toby O’Steen, 18 and Rena Kinsinger, 43.

According to HCSO reports, deputies responding to the call observed a maroon Mercury SUV pulling out of the driveway at a high rate of speed north onto Cooper Road.

Deputies followed the SUV to a pasture where the vehicle crashed through a fence and got stuck near a swamp area, prompting the call for HCSO K9 units.

K9 Duece, first tracked and apprehended Smith who was hiding under water. Smith also had a semi-auto pistol in his pants pocket, deputies said.

While one suspect caught, Duece was not done just yet and returned back to the SUV to track Coleman who ran the opposite direction from Smith. Within a short time Duece and Deputy Charles Perdomo also apprehended Coleman who was too hiding under water and according to deputies  was also in possession of a semi-auto handgun.

District 2 Lieutenant Tripp Selke who was at the scene spoke highly of what Duece and K9 deputy Perdomo, who was assisted by Deputy Caleb Johnson a former US Marine were able to accomplish.

Selke drew attention to the circumstance the K9 unit found itself faced with during the incident, which included complete darkness in a swamp area with alligators and snakes not to mention the suspects both carrying semi-auto handguns.

“The performance of these deputies and K9 Duece is just remarkable,” Selke said adding that it gives a fine testimony to the skills and commitment of the special K9 unit.

All four victims were transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for treatment for non-life threatening injuries.

The investigation will continues. For more information abut the HCSO K9 unit please visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.