By Tamas Mondovics

Working together like a well-oiled machine, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies, K-9 and aviation units were able to successfully capture a man with a list of charges in Brandon last month.

According to HCSO reports, Riverview residents Rodger Fowler, 37, and Nicole Shouse, 34, of 10315 Zackary Cir. in Riverview were arrested earlier this month following a chase in a car and on foot that ended in a wooded area near Curry St. in Brandon.

Deputies said that on Tuesday, November 3, at approximately 2:30 p.m., officers responded to a construction site in an attempt to locate Fowler, who had two active felony warrants and a child support warrant.  

Upon spotting deputies, Fowler dropped his tools and began running and fled the construction site. Deputies pursued but were unable to locate Fowler after he fled through a neighborhood.

Then at midnight the same day, deputies observed a white Isuzu Rodeo bearing an improper tag traveling eastbound on Curry Street at a high rate of speed. In an attempt to conduct a traffic stop, deputies followed the vehicle, which pulled into the driveway of 1516 Curry St. in Brandon.

The front driver side door swung open and Fowler exited the vehicle and began running eastbound into a wooded area, deputies said.

At this time HCSO aviation and K-9 responded to assist in locating Fowler. Utilizing the FLIR system, Aviation advised of a hot spot near the railroad tracks to the north of the deputies location prompting HCSO K9 deputies to track the location and nab Fowler who was hiding in the wooded area.

Meanwhile, Shouse was discovered sitting in the passenger side of the Isuzu and stated that she was aware of Fowler’s arrest warrant.  

Deputies made contact with Shouse in an attempt to locate Fowler a few days prior. She was notified that if she aided Fowler in his attempt to evade capture, she would be arrested.  

Following their arrest Shouse and Fowler whose charges include: Resisting Officer without Violence (two counts); Fleeing and Attempting to Elude a Police Officer; Operating Unregistered Vehicle; Possession of Controlled Substance (Warrant), Felon Carrying Concealed Weapon (Warrant), Failure to Pay Child Support (Civil Order), were transported to Orient Road Jail.

“This and similar arrests are a great example of the excellent cooperation between the various units who are working together to keep our communities safe,” said HCSO Public Information Officer Larry McKinnon.

Currently, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit boasts of 22 dogs and 19 deputy-handlers.

The unit includes seven German Shepherds, four Belgian Malinois, six German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mixes, three Bloodhounds, one Labrador Retriever and one German Shorthaired Pointer.

Each dog has a specialty, such as bomb or narcotics detection or fugitive apprehension, while bloodhounds are used primarily for tracking and missing persons cases.

A dog joins the Sheriff’s Office when it is between 1-3 years old, and must complete 480 hours of training to qualify to be certified as a law enforcement canine. Once certified, the canine gets a personal identification number and badge.

The dogs are a treasured part of the Sheriff’s Office and any law enforcement agency. To that end, state law helps protect law enforcement canines by making it a felony to injure or kill a police dog. Typically, the canines retire when they reach 7-8 years of age, at which time they become the deputy’s family pet. 

HCSO Aviation Unit pilots are all law enforcement deputies who take to the skies in helicopters to help find missing persons and track criminals leaving crime scenes. When the call comes in from Hillsborough Fire Rescue or the Florida Division of Forestry, they also help put out fires.

For more information, visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.