PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida man is facing several charges after deputies say he set off a fire extinguisher at a Pasco County store then kicked, bit and threatened deputies who responded to the scene.
Mark Brienza was arrested Sunday night in Port Richey after an incident at the Dollar General on Ridge Road near Regency Park Boulevard.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office says the 53-year-old went into the store just after 9 p.m. and asked to use the phone. He then left the store and used a fire extinguisher, an arrest report says.
“The defendant did not use the fire extinguisher to extinguish a fire, therefore he interfered with the proper use of the fire extinguisher,” deputies wrote in the report.
There was never a fire at the store but the sheriff’s office says Pasco County Fire Rescue responded to the scene because someone called 911 thinking there was a fire.
The arrest report says a K-9 tracked Brienza down and found him more than 1,000 feet away from the Dollar General wearing the same clothes and carrying the same blanket he had in the store. Deputies say they also noticed dust from the fire extinguisher on his pants and shoes.
During an interview, deputies say Brienza admitted he was at the Dollar General but told them he didn’t go inside and didn’t use the fire extinguisher. Deputies, however, say he was caught on surveillance video in the store.
While trying to bring Brienza to jail, deputies say they struggled to get the man into a patrol vehicle. According to the arrest report, Brienza at one point wrapped his legs around a deputy’s leg so the deputy couldn’t walk properly.
The deputy wrote in the arrest report that, while he was trying to lay Brienza on the ground, the suspect hit his face on the pavement. At that point, the deputy says Brienza told him, “you’re dead” multiple times.
After the struggle, Brienza was taken to Bayonet Point Medical Center for treatment and clearance. While they were trying to handcuff him to a hospital bed, deputies say Brienza resisted them, kicked them and tried to bite them.
Brienza was eventually cleared by medical staff and taken to the Land O Lakes Detention Center. He has been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, assault on a law enforcement officer, threat of death to a law enforcement officer, resisting with violence, resisting without violence and preventing/obstructing extinguishment of fire. Brienza is also facing a charge for violating his active Pasco County misdemeanor probation.
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