Alaqua Animal Refuge and Walton County Sheriff’s Office to be Featured on New TV Series Premiering April 14

Breezy_and_Laurie1DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla— After months of filming on location in the Florida Panhandle, Nat Geo WILD announced today the air date of a new TV series featuring Alaqua Animal Refuge and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO).

The new series, Animal PD, will premiere on Saturday night, April 14, 2018 at 9 p.m. (CST) on the Nat Geo WILD TV Channel, and will be shown right after the popular The Incredible Dr. Pol. Additional shows are set for Saturday, April 21 and Saturday, April 28.

Animal PD is based on the unique partnership of Alaqua Animal Refuge and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, and their relentless efforts to bring about awareness and change in overall animal welfare and animal cruelty cases. The series follows Laurie Hood, founder of Alaqua, and Breezy Adkinson, a WCSO investigator, as they investigate anonymous tips, execute raids and rescues, and build cases to bring their owners to justice.

An “Animal PD Premiere Party” has also been scheduled for April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at The Hub 30A, and the community is invited to join us! There will also be live music at The Hub from 7 to 9 pm. The premiere episode, “Unchained and Dangerous,” will be shown on the big screen and highlights Adkinson and Hood as they respond to a suspicious call of two aggressive dogs terrorizing a neighborhood, while the Alaqua team rescues and rehabilitates dogs and cats in critical condition, abandoned at a deceased man’s trailer home.

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For Immediate Release 

April 2, 2018

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla— A viscous attack leads to the arrest of a Crestview man for aggravated battery, resisting an officer with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer.

Just before 5:00 PM on Saturday, March 31, 2018, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call in reference to a physical disturbance on E. Mitchell Avenue in Santa Rosa Beach. When deputies arrived on scene, they found a man covered in blood. The victim stated that he was gardening in the front yard of his home when the suspect suddenly attacked him.

During the struggle, the suspect punched the victim in the nose and kneed him in his chest before wrestling the victim’s gardening shears out of his hands. The suspect began beating and stabbing the resident with the shears, forcibly knocking out one of the victim’s front teeth and causing multiple lacerations to the back of the victim’s head. The suspect only stopped when a bystander stepped in and attempted to take the gardening shears out of his hands.

The suspect then fled the scene and was later found a short distance away from the victim’s house, naked in Choctawhatchee Bay. When WCSO deputies attempted to retrieve the suspect from the water, he began punching the deputies and attempting to pull them under water. After a brief struggle, deputies were able to apprehend the suspect, who was later identified as John Kyle Botelho, 26, of Crestview, Florida.

Botelho is charged with resisting an officer with violence, aggravated battery on a person using a deadly weapon and battery on a law enforcement officer. He was transported and booked into the Walton County Jail.

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FIRE OUTFor Immediate Release

March 29, 2018

PONCE DE LEON, Fla— Walton County Sheriff’s Office is currently on scene of a fatal house fire on 181-C.

Walton County Fire Rescue and WCSO were called to the home at approximately 12:40 AM following a 911 call. When deputies and fire crews arrived the home was fully engulfed. Two bodies were later located in the structure.

The fire has been deemed suspicious in nature. The Medical Examiner’s Office and the State Fire Marshal’s Office has responded. WCSO will release further information as more details emerge.

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1CY0D0KCFor Immediate Release

March 28, 2018

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla— A man who engaged a 15-year-old for nude photos through a popular smartphone app is now behind bars for traveling to meet a minor for sex.

On March 16th deputies learned following a tip of a parent that a 15-year-old Walton County resident had been sending nude photos to a 27-year-old man out of Fort Walton Beach in exchange for Amazon gift cards.

The victim told investigators she let the suspect know she was 15-years-old prior to sending the photos. Consent was given by the victim’s parents to assume her identity online.

Investigators reestablished contact with the suspect via the KiK application and exchanged messages on the app and through text from March 20th to March 27th. In one instance the suspect was told numerous times the victim was 15-years-old. During the course of the conversation, the suspect made several references to meeting the victim. He then made several statements sexual in nature that indicated he wanted to engage in sexual activity with the victim.

Investigators confirmed the identity of the suspect as Matthew James Reynolds, 27 of Fort Walton Beach. On March 28, 2018, Reynolds traveled to Mossy Head awaiting who he believed to be the victim. He was met by members of the WCSO Special Victim’s Unit.

“The parent’s diligence in this case help put this person behind bars,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “It is imperative that parents have an understanding of what apps their kids are using and ask questions when they notice suspicious behavior.”

Reynolds is charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a computer to solicit a child, and using a two-way communication device in the commission of a felony — all felonies. His bond is set at $50,000.

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Walton County, Fla—Walton County Fire Rescue crews and other local first responders teamed up with South Walton High School today to highlight the dangers of distracted and intoxicated driving as the school prepares for prom night.

Walton County Fire Rescue firefighters and Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies were joined by South Walton Fire District, Florida Highway Patrol, Clary Glenn Funeral Home, All Pro Towing and South Walton High School staff and drama students to put on a reality-based portrayal of a fatal car crash and the subsequent emergency response by local first responders.

The students gathered in the high school’s football stadium and received a firsthand experience of the dangers of driving while distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, including killing someone, possibly one of their friends, as well as being arrested for crimes as serious as vehicular homicide.

“This mock traffic crash highlights the real life consequences associated with driving while distracted or under the influence,” says Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “Our goal is for the students to take a lesson from these demonstrations and use good judgement to hopefully prevent tragic events like these in the future.”

After the presentation, guest speakers Renee Napier and Eric Smallridge shared their story with the teens to emphasize the dangers of making the decision to drive while distracted or under the influence.

A banner displaying the question “How Are You Getting Home?” was hung in South Walton High School’s cafeteria for the students to sign to show their commitment to safe driving.

“Our children are our most important assets, and keeping them safe and giving them the wisdom they need to make good decisions will always be our first priority,” says Adkinson.

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CLARK MUG SHOTFor Immediate Release

March 26, 2018

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla— A man who taunted deputies on his four-wheeler with a beer in hand is now in custody.

On Saturday evening deputies attempted a traffic stop on three four wheelers for driving on a county maintained road.  Two of the four wheelers stopped on Windflower Street, a third fled from the stop. A white male driving the third four wheeler  later returned to the traffic stop and began taunting the deputy and driving in circles in the middle of the road shouting “Come and get me!”

Shortly after additional deputies arrived in the area. When deputies turned down Margaret Boulevard the four-wheeler accelerated rapidly toward the front of the patrol and swerved around it. The suspect was seen holding a beer can in his left hand and yelling as he went by.  The suspect then accelerated rapidly southbound on Watson Road and then turned onto Guinevere Lane.

Contact was later made at a residence where the four-wheeler was observed. Witnesses identified the male as Aaron Keith Clark, 24, of DeFuniak Springs

Deputies went out to Clark’s home residence on County Highway 192 and he was taken into custody. Clark told deputies he did not remember the incident due to being intoxicated. He stated he didn’t remember almost hitting a patrol car or running from deputies. Clark stated he was sorry for the incident.

Clark is charged with fleeing and attempting to elude and reckless driving. He was transported and booked into the Walton County Jail.

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1CY0CX3MFor Immediate Release

March 26, 2018

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla— A frightening parking lot encounter leads to the arrest of a Jacksonville, Arkansas man for battery and false imprisonment.

Early in the morning on March 23rd an employee of the Cigar Factory closed the business and walked to her car to leave. She told investigators a man she had waited on earlier in her shift rushed toward her pushing her into her vehicle. The victim said she held on to the steering wheel in an attempt to fight off the suspect.

During the struggle, the victim said the suspect was holding her against her will while trying to unbutton her pants and pull his down. The victim continued to fight the suspect striking him several times. The suspect then fled the scene after hearing what he thought was another vehicle in the parking lot. The victim was able to quickly take a photo of the suspect’s vehicle as he left the scene.

While waiting on the suspect earlier in the night he eluded to staying in Destin Pointe while talking to the victim. Investigators located the vehicle matching the description at the Magnolia House in Destin. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was called in to assist and Johnathan Watson, 30, was taken into custody. Watson later admitted to investigators that he may have “went too far” and should have stopped when the victim was screaming “stop.”

Watson is charged with burglary with battery, false imprisonment, and battery. He was released the following day on $50,000 bond.

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downloadFor Immediate Release

March 20, 2018

WALTON COUNTY, Fla— At the end of 2017 the Walton County Sheriff’s Office Posse will have volunteered more than 9,500 hours to the community it serves.

The 18 member unit tallied 9,545 hours total contributing approximately $216,000 worth of value to Walton County in the way of public safety. That number is according to the latest Bureau Labor of Statistics data for Florida volunteer time value which is now rated at $22.70 per hour.

“There is no doubt that they are an invaluable part of our family here at WCSO,” said Sheriff Adkinson.

The Posse is a well-vetted unit composed of a wide range of demographics who do not receive any compensation for their service. The Unit is made up of individuals from various backgrounds with a number of them retired professionals from Corporate Executives and Managers, Physician, Contractors, Musicians, retired Law Enforcement Officers, Fireman, and Military retirees. They all share a common motivation to give back by assisting the Walton County Sherriff’s office in their service to the citizens of Walton County.

Their dedication and performance have been recognized by the Federal Government with attaining the Presidential Volunteering Service Award and Congressional Special Service Recognition. They were the first Volunteer Public Safety unit to receive these tributes in the State of Florida.

The Sheriff’s Posse was started eight years ago by Sheriff Adkinson with seven volunteers and has grown now to the 18 member unit. The initial idea of implementing a Posse Unit was to relieve some of the mundane duties from Deputies so they could be more available for emergency calls. With the growing confidence between the posse and deputies, the posse is performing a great deal more in the interest of public safety and has become a force multiplier for the Sheriff Office.

Though unarmed, the members are in constant contact with the Sheriff’s dispatch and deputies via radio, cell phone, and mobile computers. They have their own uniforms and equipment consisting of beige shirts and black trousers, patrol cars, radios, and computers provided by the Sheriff Office and some through donations.

The unit performs a number of tasks in addition to assisting Deputies including patrolling neighborhoods, welfare checks, directing traffic, working parades and sporting events, funeral escorts, assisting citizens who have locked keys in their vehicles, disabled/abandoned vehicle checks, road assistance, 911 hang-ups checks, and neighborhood crime prevention.

Specialized training includes first responder AED/CPR certification, sheriff radio and computer, traffic control, vehicle operations, hazardous material, access and authorization to the Florida and National Crime Information Centers (FCIC/NCIC) databases along with a myriad of procedures aimed at assisting Walton County citizens.

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March 19, 2018

PANAMA CITY, FLA– “Stay fierce.” It was the common phrase at a discussion panel Thursday.

Captain Angie Hogeboom alongside Jessica Proffitt Bracken, of Proffitt PR, and JJ Smith, a YouTube personality, spoke to a room full of high school and college-aged students at Gulf Coast State College  in Panama City on the topic of Women in Leadership.

“One of the things I try to do is empower the women in our organization,” said Captain Hogeboom. “Especially the up-and-coming deputies. There may not be many of them, but we have a lot of support thanks to Sheriff Adkinson.”

The discussion included everything from climbing the ladder in your organization, to online presence, to dealing with any obstacles along your career path.

“There has been a change in culture and a lot of it has to do with our youth and their efforts to raise awareness,” said Hogeboom. “It’s important to me that my daughters see a strong female image.”

“Every day you’re leading. Whether you think so or not. If you believe yourself to be a leader; look at every opportunity as a chance to lead,” said Hogeboom.

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March 15, 2018

Paxton, Fla—Walton County Fire Rescue crews respond to a structure fire on State Line Road in Paxton to find a home partially engulfed in flames.

At 2:54 AM Thursday morning, Walton County Fire Rescue crews were dispatched to 960 State Line Road in reference to a residential fire. The caller stated that she woke up in the middle of the night and saw flames on the ceiling of her bedroom. Firefighters and Paramedics arrived within minutes to find part of the home fully engulfed in flames. Fortunately, both residents made it out of the home safely and no one was injured. The residents were able to save one of their two family dogs. Unfortunately, Walton County Fire Rescue firefighters were unable to save the second dog.

Walton County Fire Rescue, Florala Fire Department and Lockhart Volunteer Fire Department crews battled the fire for over an hour and a half before the fire was contained. One WCFR firefighter suffered minor injuries while fighting the blaze and was transported and released from a local hospital.

Electrical issues are believed to be the cause of the fire. Fire rescue crews cleared the scene just before 9:00 AM this morning. The American Red Cross was called out to assist the residents of the severely damaged home.

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