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Ocala, Florida — On July 29, Ocala Police Officer W. Witt and Officer Romero responded near the corner of NE 3rd St. and E. Silver Springs Blvd. about a Chevy truck that was reported stolen, along with the victim’s firearm that was inside the vehicle. The victim explained that before the theft, he was outside working and recalled noticing the suspect walking east on the sidewalk along E. Silver Springs Blvd. The victim then went inside for a few minutes to grab a towel and when he came back outside, his truck was gone. The victim said he had left his keys in the car and that the driver’s door was locked but the passenger door was unlocked. About 40 minutes after the theft and while officers were still on scene with the victim, K9officer Prather relayed over the radio that he had located the vehicle several miles away near S.R. 326 and U.S. 441.
While traveling northbound on U.S. 441, K-9 Officer Prather observed the suspect driving in the southbound lane. K-9 Officer Prather then turned his vehicle around and followed the truck into the CVS Pharmacy parking lot. There, the subject had fled from the stolen truck. K-9 Officer Prather gave multiple warnings before releasing his partner, K-9 Graham. The suspect was quickly apprehended and was identified as juvenile Paul Smith (DOB: 08/10/2004) and was listed as missing from MCSO. He was taken to the hospital to be treated for the dog bite he received. Smith admitted to stealing the truck. Smith said that while driving, he saw the officer and thought that he was searching for him. As he passed by, Smith then noticed K-9 Officer Prather turn around behind.
That’s when Smith sped up, pulled into the pharmacy’s parking lot, and decided to leave the truck and flee. When asked if he heard the K9 unit shout warnings, Smith acknowledged he could hear them. It was at this time Smith was apprehended by K-9 Graham. Officer Witt asked Smith about the firearm and how it ended up in the path of travel that he had taken while attempting to escape. Smith said he had found the gun in the truck, put it in his waistband, and that it must have fallen out while running. Smith was discharged from the hospital and arrested for multiple felonies, including grand theft of a motor vehicle, grand theft of a firearm, burglary of a conveyance while armed, and other charges.
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