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With toddler safe, Tampa police arrest drug suspect barricaded in home

TAMPA — Everyone's first concern was the safety of the toddler.

The little girl was inside 3808 Arlington Ave. on Thursday afternoon as police and a SWAT team surrounded the home to arrest her father.

Willie Conner, 27, told negotiators he only wanted his 2-year-old daughter to be safe, and brought her outside as he surrendered just before 3:30 p.m.

It ended a 1 1/2-hour standoff.

Tampa police first met Conner at 10:45 a.m. when two undercover officers tried to buy 2 ounces of crack cocaine from him, said Andrea Davis, a spokeswoman for the department.

Officers knew Conner had a drug trafficking warrant.

"Either way they were going to arrest him, if he sold him the drugs or not," Davis said.

Conner recognized the undercover officers and attempted to run them over before driving away, police said. The officers, on foot, couldn't pursue his Buick.

Witnesses said the Buick hit a fence before crashing into a white box van at N 19th Street and Giddens Avenue. People in the truck called 911 and reported that a man pulled a little girl from the back seat before running away.

Eventually, Conner returned home. Police surveillance had been monitoring his house.

Someone dropped him off there, and that person was being questioned, Davis said.

Negotiators contacted Conner by phone and he surrendered his daughter to a relative waiting outside and was taken into custody.

Besides being arrested on the warrant, he faces charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, child abuse, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and leaving an accident scene.

This wasn't Conner's first drug buy involving a child.

Tampa police said he sold drugs to an informer on July 30 with a baby in the back seat.

Records show he had also served nearly a year in a prison work-release program in 2007 on cocaine charges.

With toddler safe, Tampa police arrest drug suspect barricaded in home 11/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 3, 2011 9:59pm]
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