PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Five Tallahassee men are in Bay County Jail in connection with a crime spree late last night. Authorities say it started with an attempt to the break into a vehicle. They believe these five suspects may be part of a larger group.
Lawrence Woodard, Keontal Watson, Renard O’Neill, Alphonso Brooks, and Vaughtrail Jerger are facing a variety of charges. Bay County Sheriff's Investigators arrested the five men around 10:30 Tuesday night at St. Andrews State Park. But the incident that led to those arrests happened about an hour earlier on Hidden Pine Drive.
That’s where a homeowner says he caught the group trying to burglarize his vehicle.
"He gave the pursuit of the suspects that were involved in the burglary,” said Bay County Chief Deputy Tommy Ford. “During the course of that incident on of the suspects fired a shot."
Deputies joined the chase, which made its way down Thomas Drive and ended up at St. Andrews State Park. They hit the front gate, and then tried to drive over a sand dune. Their car got stuck, so the men fled on foot. Deputies found a gun in the car. They managed to arrest all five of the suspects.
Ford believes they're part of a larger group.
"Our understanding is they may be part of a gang out of Tallahassee that travels around committing burglaries and this particular gang has been known to commit identity theft."
Residents say they are disturbed by the incident.
"I was pretty upset. I mean we live in a calm neighborhood,” said Resident David Adkins. “Everybody knows everybody up in here and everybody helps everybody."
"We also this morning responded to several additional vehicle burglaries in that area, and found property from those burglaries in the stolen truck," explained Ford.
Investigators are trying to determine who's responsible for the other recent burglaries.