Monday, November 20, 2017
Public safety

Canine patrol helps catch Plant City robbery suspects

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PLANT CITY — A tenacious sheriff's dog was able to track down two shooting suspects after a brief chase down Cooper Road on Thursday night.

Charles Vernon Smith Jr., 34, of Dover, and Joshua Seth Coleman, 19, of Brandon, were sniffed out by Deuce in a Plant City field just before midnight, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office.

Deputies said the two men kicked in the back door of 4202 Cooper Road at 11:30 p.m. and shot three people before hitting a fourth with the gun. As help arrived, a maroon sport-utility vehicle was seen leaving the property. Deputies gave chase and turned to Deuce when the men abandoned the SUV when it got stuck in a swampy pasture.

Deuce tracked Charles Smith for a half mile and found him underwater, deputies said. The canine deputy then went back to the SUV and tracked Coleman in the other direction. He was also found hiding underwater.

Both men had semi-automatic pistols at the time of their arrests.

Deputies charged Smith and Coleman with armed robbery home invasion, four counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, felony possession of a firearm, grand theft of a motor vehicle, grand theft and resisting arrest without violence.

All four of the victims were taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Both suspects were being held without bail Friday.

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