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Police dog collars fleeing truck thief

Breon WalkerA Jacksonville man is in custody in Baker County early this week following a high-speed chase that began in Sanderson and ended in Columbia County on Interstate 10 the morning of November 12.

Breon Walker, 21, who police later learned was wanted on a Duval County warrant for violating probation, was chased down by a sheriff’s department K-9 dog shortly after his stolen 1998 Ford pickup veered off the interstate and struck a tree.

Deputy Patrick McGauley said he and Cpl. Tony Norman reached speeds of 90 mph as the pickup, which had been stolen earlier in Jacksonville, headed west from the CR 229 exit through west Baker County just before 8 am.

The officer said Mr. Walker leaped over a barrier fence off the north shoulder and fled on foot as the K-9 Tango was released and took the suspect down about 150 yards into a heavily wooded area. The suspect was treated at the scene for bite wounds to the shoulder and neck, then taken into custody by Columbia County deputies.

He was brought to Baker County later that day and faces counts of reckless driving, fleeing police, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and resisting without violence.

Deputy McGauley said he saw the semi-automatic pistol recovered next to the truck fall out of the suspect’s waistband as he dashed for the fence.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Tracy Hisler-Pace charged Mr. Walker with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and careless driving.

Duval County police chased the truck west to the Baker County line and local officers were advised as it crossed into Baker County. They were able to keep up with its location via a GPS device in the pickup.

Cpl. Norman and Deputy McGauley first spotted it eastbound on US 90 just west of Sanderson, and the truck abruptly changed directions after it sped through downtown, turning south on 229.

It nearly lost control there and entering the interstate to the south.

A passenger in the pickup, Joel Higgs, 22, of Alexandria, VA, told police he was a hitchhiker who had been picked up by Mr. Walker. He was not charged, nor injured when the vehicle struck the tree at low speed.

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