MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A man stole a car, then he broke into a home and injured a sheriff’s K-9, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said.
Manatee County deputies arrested a man they say committed those offenses on Friday. On Monday, the sheriff’s office released a video showing how it went down.
According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the incident began around 4 p.m. when deputies spotted a stolen vehicle in a Walmart parking lot on State Road 64 East. When the driver spotted the deputies he took off, ramming a sheriff’s office patrol car and driving over a shopping cart corral.
Deputies radioed for assistance from the sheriff’s office aerial unit, who spotted the fleeing vehicle along US 301, and followed it from above as it ran off the road and crashed into a fence.
The driver of the stolen vehicle, later identified as 36-year-old Christopher Darlington, climbed out of the vehicle and broke into a nearby home.
Deputies set a perimeter around the home and demanded Darlington come out and surrender. After he refused, deputies along with K-9 Loki entered the house and found him armed with two “large knives” in the master bedroom, authorities said.
As the K-9 unit approached, Darlington swung the blades at K-9 Loki, cutting him on the nose and face.
Darlington was quickly arrested.
Loki, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, was taken to an area veterinary hospital for treatment. He is a seven-year veteran with the sheriff’s office and has made more than 250 arrests.
He received 12 stitches to his face and is expected to make a full recovery and be back to work in about two weeks.
For the last several days, Aylin Castillo has thought “what if?” She and her family live at the home Darlington broke into. They were not there at the time.
“It’s traumatizing now,” Castillo said. “I could not believe it. I was shaking. It was so scary.”
She was at work Friday when she got a call from the sheriff’s office. They told her they believed someone was in her house.
When she got home, deputies were everywhere, and they confirmed someone was inside.
“I couldn’t believe it. It felt like a movie,” Castillo said.
Nobody was home, which Castillo says is usually never the case.
“The house is never empty, so yeah, it was a miracle that it was empty,” Castillo said. “I was like, what if my mom was home? She would have been sleeping. He could have taken her for hostage.”
While they weren’t home, Castillo says their dog was, locked up in her cage. She’s grateful, because she knows this could’ve ended differently.
“God has control of everything,” Castillo said. “Everything happens perfect time, even though it’s bad things, but we’re all OK, and that’s what matters.”
During the arrest, deputies said they discovered a trafficking amount of suspected fentanyl on Darlington. Prior to his arrest Friday, deputies said Darlington had two outstanding warrants for Contempt of Court.
He was charged with a list of crimes including possession of a stolen vehicle, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, felony criminal mischief, armed burglary, aggravated battery on a police canine, trafficking fentanyl, warrant for contempt of court for driving under the influence, and warrant for contempt of court for driving while license suspended.