K-9 apprehends fleeing suspect

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) K-9 Magnum not only played a big part in finding a fleeing burglary suspect, but also in convincing him to surrender to law enforcement officers.

That suspect, Billy Gene Garmany, was initially arrested on a misdemeanor charge of resisting a law enforcement officer without violence because he allegedly tried to run from officers.

He was booked into the Okeechobee County Jail on a bond of $1,000.

Billy Garmany

Garmany, 33, Lago Mesa Way, Kissimmee, was later arrested on a Department of Corrections felony warrant that charged him with violation of probation – burglary of a dwelling, violation of probation – possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and violation of probation – possession of a controlled substance (oxycodone).

He is being held without bond on those felony charges.

OCSO Deputy Brian Cross stated in his report that he was contacted around 11:15 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, by officers with the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD) about a man trying to break into a car in the 500 block of N.W. Ninth Avenue.

The suspect started running and was seen about 30 minutes later in the area of Race Trac Petroleum, 1596 S.R. 70 E., by Deputy Chris Botarri, a member of the OCSO auxiliary. However, the man again took off running in a southerly direction on S.E. 16th Avenue.

Deputy Cross then pointed out that fellow deputies and OCPD officer set up a perimeter from S.E. 10th Avenue to S.E. 16th Avenue.

Once the perimeter was established, Deputy Cross removed Magnum from his patrol unit and tasked him to start tracking the suspect.

OCSO Deputy Kristin Gray then saw the man, later identified as Garmany, running on S.E. Second Street and S.E. 15th Avenue. The law enforcement perimeter was then moved to “… lock the suspect in,” stated Deputy Cross’ report.

Soon, Magnum picked up the man’s scent and led his handler into some dense vegetation.

Deputy Cross and K-9 Magnum

“K-9 Magnum stood up on his hind legs and barked and came down working the ground through the heavy brush. K-9 Magnum pulled me approximately 15 feet to the south and I observed the suspect lying in the brush, approximately 3 feet away,” stated Deputy Cross.

According to the deputy’s report he then told the suspect to show his hands, but Garmany did not comply. At that point Deputy Cross told Magnum to apprehend the suspect.

“K-9 Magnum engaged the suspect’s left rib area and re-engaged on his left upper shoulder. I called K-9 Magnum off after the suspect began moving,” noted the deputy.

Deputy Cross again ordered the man to show his hands, but again, Garmany did not comply, pointed out the report.

So the deputy once again commanded Magnum to apprehend the suspect and when the K-9 engaged the man’s left arm Garmany reportedly “… began to scream: OK! OK!” stated Deputy Cross.

Garmany then showed the deputy his hands and Magnum stood over him while Deputy Jonathon Gove handcuffed him.

The man was then taken to the emergency room at Raulerson Hospital for treatment of “minor lacerations,” offered Deputy Cross.

After Garmany was treated, he was taken to the county jail without further incident.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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