At speeds topping 80 mph, two robbery suspects led a convoy of police on a chase from Gainesville to Crystal River on Tuesday before crashing head-on into Sheriff Charles Dean's car and being arrested.
The men were charged with various crimes, and their timing was instrumental in their capture. At the moment they were speeding south on U.S. 19 into the city, local police and fire units were filling the highway while responding to a bomb threat at the Crystal River Mall.
The confusing chain of events included a collision between a fire truck and a car on U.S. 19 outside the mall property. Coincidentally, almost two years ago to the day, a similar chase from Gainesville ended with the suspect's vehicle crashing on U.S. 41 in Floral City.
According to police, this is what happened:
Kelvin Missildine, 28, and Melvin Perkins, 33, were fleeing Gainesville after allegedly robbing a television and a food processor from a Kmart there. The men fled south to Williston, then to U.S. 19 in Levy County and on to Crystal River.
Nearly a dozen units from Levy County pursued the men's Chevrolet Blazer on the highway.
At the same time, a bomb threat had been called in to authorities. The caller said the bomb would go off at 2:30 p.m. at the Kmart in the Crystal River Mall.
Last month, a bank was robbed in Crystal River after an anonymous caller reported a possible bomb at the mall in what police think was a diversion. Tuesday, police and deputies swarmed to Crystal River, investigating the bomb threat while anticipating a bank robbery. No bomb was found.
Among the units responding was a Crystal River Fire Department truck. The truck collided with a Mercedes driven by a 16-year-old girl outside the mall. The girl and a 15-year-old passenger were treated for minor injuries.
While this was going on, the chase was entering the city limits.
Dean credited Crystal River police Chief Roger Krieger with immediately clearing all intersections along U.S. 19 to prevent anyone from being injured as the cars sped south on U.S. 19.
Dean said he and a group of deputies had been in the Homosassa area waiting for a potential bank robbery, but when they heard the chase, they moved north into Crystal River.
Dean said Missildine, driving the Blazer, turned north onto Fort Island Gulf Road and then into the former Scotty's store parking lot.
"I knew I had him when he went into the parking lot because he didn't know where he was," said Dean, who was driving a Lincoln Crown Victoria, his official car. "He made a 360 degree turn and I was right there and we hit."
Dean was not injured.
"Then one of them hopped out and started running and a Levy County deputy fired a warning shot and he stopped." Dean said he drew his weapon and held the second suspect at gunpoint while the running suspect was captured.
Gainesville police say Missildine, who lives in Dover, will be charged with multiple traffic infractions in Gainesville, Levy and Citrus counties as well as one count of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer. Missildine also will be charged in Gainesville with on count of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravted battery of a law enforcement officer.
Gainesville police say Perkins of Gainesville will be charged with one count of armed robbery.