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Horseman, Termed Drunk, Takes Bunnell Police on Long Chase Through the City

| September 25, 2012

Charles “Skeeter” Cowart.

Charles Cowart, better known as Skeeter to his family and friends, has had issues. Earlier this month he was arrested and jailed on a petit theft charge. Two years ago around this time he was arrested on a DUI charge. He was sentenced to community hours. The year before he had his hunting license suspended for three years and was placed on probation after hunting deer at night with a gun and a light. In 2004, he’d been arrested on grand theft charges that were dropped. He’s also survived a spectacular crash with his pick-up truck, which went airborne.

Cowart, 29, is the son of Chuck and Peggy Cowart, who own a blueberry farm in the western part of the county. They’re part of one of Flagler County’s oldest families and long-time landowners.

On Monday, Charles Cowart was arrested again, this time for riding a horse through Bunnell and allegedly injuring his horse and setting off a police chase that took bizarre twists, some of them literal, through streets, across railroad tracks and barbed wire as crowds gathered and gaped.

It began just before 2 p.m. when three Bunnell police officers–Lt. Randy Burke, Cpl. George Hristakopoulos and  Austin Chewning–were dispatched to North Cherry Street. The call was about a drunkard riding a horse. They saw nothing there. It was perhaps about that time that Bunnell City Commissioner John Rogers, who was having lunch with his children at the State Street Diner on U.S. 1 in downtown Bunnell, saw the horse ride by. Nothing appeared terribly out of the ordinary to the commissioner, other than a man riding his horse, which happens in Bunnell, and which he pointed out to his children.

But 23 minutes later, Chewning located the rider by the 300 Block of East Moody Boulevard, or State Road 100, right by the Flagler Playhouse. The theatrics were just beginning.

Chewning activated his cruiser’s emergency lights to stop traffic, apparently out of concern for the rider–by then it was clear to cops that it was Cowart–as he crossed the boulevard on his way to South Pine Street. Cowart told the cops that he was riding to his grandmother’s house in Flagler Beach. Chewning asked him to get off the horse and talk. Instead, according to the report Chewning filed, “Mr. Cowart then in an aggressive manner reared the horse back, causing it [to] run southbound on Pine Street.” For everyone’s safety. Burke told the dispatch center that there would be no pursuit, but that police would keep an eye on Cowart.

The trio of Bunnell cops kept track of Coward as he rode down to the area of South Bunnell–referred to as the Flagler County Housing Authority in the police report, a euphemism for Bunnell’s black ghetto–“which caused a crowd of people to come out of their homes and follow us for that time,” Chewning wrote.


Cowart then traveled west toward South State Street, crossing over the railroad tracks by South Bay Street–just as police were hearing warnings of an oncoming train. The train had to be brought to a halt (though that’s not unusual for trains on that line: it’s not Germany). The Bunnell cop trio at that point turned on the cruiser’s emergency lights and followed Cowart, but not the sirens, “because,” Chewning wrote, “we did not want to frighten the animal, potentially making the situation worse.”

“All officers,” Chewning continued, “continued to give loud, verbal commands for Mr. Cowart to come off the horse, which he ignored. Mr. Cowart continued to ride his horse around the south end of the city for approximately 35 minutes until the horse became completely exhausted and causing injury to the animal’s left rear le.” Jeff Hoffman, the Bunnell Police chief, called for back-up from the Flagler County Sheriff’s mounted unit, seen most often in community parades and at festivals.

Cowart about that time got off the horse and started running toward the woods on South Bay Street. Deputies set up a large perimeter around that zone as they heard Burke tell them through the dispatch center that Cowart had a large knife in a holster on his hip. A canine unit—that of deputy Jamie Roster—joined the tracking.

Cowart emerged from the woods near where Chewning was. Chewning took out his Taser and ordered Cowart to the ground. “After I gave those commands to Mr. Cowart,” Chewning wrote, “he advised that he was tired of being chased and started to run over the railroad tracks towards South State Street.” The pursuit was on again. Cowart jumped over a large barbed wire fence and ran toward South State Street. Deputies converged on him behind Bunnell’s Classic Restaurant. That’s where he was finally apprehended and taken to jail.

Cowart is charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, fleeing and eluding police, cruelty to animals, and interfering with railroad tracks or equipment. He remains in jail on $7,000 bail.

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30 Responses for “Horseman, Termed Drunk, Takes Bunnell Police on Long Chase Through the City”

  1. Jim R says:

    What’s the penalty for driving a horse while intoxicated?

  2. bud says:

    This guys simply goes for a ride on his horse through the City and now is charged with at least 4 crimes which are all a result of the pursuit. Cruelty to animals? Really? Really?

    • gator says:

      well bud, if you ride a horse to long and ride it like a crazy guy, the horse can be hurt .and if you look in to it, he been ride the horse sence 10:00 that morining, from hwy305 the horse had no breaks no water,and it was hot out side,so you want to get funny about it. let some one ride your butt,from 10:00 in all over the place with no water, or shade, and no stoping and resting. then on hard roads, railroad tracks, lets see how you would do. yes he should get his butt in alot of trouble for cruelty to animals,and my be help for his self.

      • Chuck says:

        Where does it say he was riding since 10:00 in the mourning and how can you tell that he gave the horse no break or water.

        • noway says:

          chuck you can tell by looking at a horse. dang! and putting the horse in danger because the rider is stupid and drunk???? you question that it is a no brainer!

          yup bud cruely to animals. if you can’t see it then you need to rethink and reread the article.

          • Evan says:

            Actually you need to re-read the article. There is no indication that the animal was in distress when the cops first started harassing this guy. He was “resisting arrest” but there is no mention of what he was being arrested for.

            Is there a law against riding horses now?
            Are you one of those fascist police state supporters who think, anything the police do is OK as long as it makes people “safe”?

            This society has too many police and they are a burden on society. The chase caused more problems than the guy riding a horse. The police were creating a public disturbance and should be ARRESTED for disorderly conduct but of course that will never happen because in America the police are above the law and can throw you in jail if you look at them funny let alone attempt to travel to grandma’s house

            • Hissy Fit says:

              If I could like this 1000 times i would!

              There wasnt a good reason or probable cause to begin harassing him in the first place. I DOUBT, that anyone who owns a horse and knows how to ride it is EVER going to be CRUEL to their animal, that’s absurd. they just want to take it away from him. They want to justify their actions. Thats all.

      • ladyhawkjm says:

        If the police had not insisted on making this an issue, maybe the horse would not have been exhausted. They would have been able to stop to take breaks or take their time without law enforcement being insistent…..

        How do you know they were in the road… For all you know, like me, he may have been on the grass just off the side of the road and it doesn’t hurt the horse to cross over asphalt or ride a short distance on it… Its running them on asphalt for extended amounts of time that cause road founder, don’t know that it would really matter either if the horse was shod…

        And railroad tracks, are you kidding….. Mountainous areas are harder on a horse than railroad tracks! Makes me wonder if you have ever owned a horse, let alone rode one!

        June

      • cathy says:

        were you riding with him?

    • maryann says:

      “Simply goes for a ride” Are you serious? Yes really!!!!! He’s a long list of criminal activities and not he endangered the horse, tied up law enforcement for stupid reason and was publicly intoxicated. Throw the book at him once and for all. It’s too bad he’s the child of upstanding citizens giving them a bad name.

      • Evan says:

        The cops were the ones creating the disturbance with their low speed chase.

        Sounds to me like the cops had nothing better to do so they decided to get “tied up” chasing around a guy riding a horse. Where I am from the cops need to worry about violence and real criminals.

        Obviously you just hate freedom and think everyone should have to ask permission to do anything

    • ol' sarge says:

      yes, really…he rode the horse through barbed wire. He is not charged with riding a horse, he is charged with not yielding to traffic, general disruption, and being the kind of idiot who won’t stop when the police ask him to do so…riding a horse is not a crime, but being a moron can be

    • Mallyssa says:

      do u know how far mondex is from bunnell. i seen him that day.. the horse didnt have any water after ridin that horse from mondex to all across bunnell.. plus ridin a horse on asphalt isnt good.. it hurts the horses feet. thats why people move to mondex that has horses so they can ride them round.

  3. Lonewolf says:

    Hi Ho Silver…Away!

  4. Geezer says:

    Yep, that is “cruelty to animals.” When you mount a poor horse while you’re inebriated,
    you risk that large animal’s life, as well as any innocent driver that plows into it. Yes, that’s pretty cruel.
    It’s a sad sight, to see a dead or injured horse–all because of some drunken sod with too much time on his hands. Really, really.

    The Cowarts are a well-to-do family and have deep roots here and in Palatka. (St. Augustine too)
    Bail will be a breeze. Mr. Boozer will be just fine to do this all over again.

    Skeeter Cowart, A Darwin Award candidate!

  5. jespo says:

    Drunk at 2pm on a horse in a city, knife in a holster, running from police when told to stop…and people think it’s an issue when law enforcement stops him Really? Thinking…it’s a habit the rest of us have.

  6. Geezer says:

    This story of stupidity on a grand scale has gone national.
    Google “Charles Cowart.”
    He’s famous! (infamous?)

  7. bunnell boy says:

    I have a idea he was watching reruns of Bonanza before this took place. He thought he was little joe jumping on his horse and riding into town. The only thing about this is they went in the saloon when they got into town, they didnt get lit before.

  8. bud says:

    I was half-joking about the comment above but in all seriousness, it was a breezy 82 degrees (high) today. And none of you know if he stopped so the horse could rehydrate or cool beneath a shady tree. The fact is that the horse was injured after the pursuit began not before. When the law enforcing government man stepped in to “help” that is when things went very bad for himself and his animal. And this entire report is based on the facts as reported by the responders but of course, this man will have his own version of events that may sound completely different. So before you convict the guy in the court of public opinion, maybe you should give the man the benefit of the doubt.

  9. Clint says:

    Geddy….(hickup) ……Up !!!!

  10. PJ says:

    Another drunk punk redneck kid from a fine local family . He should be ashamed of himself.

    He almost killed the horse.

    He was not out for a ride he was being an ass. This is what you do when your drunk.

    I say let him out no bail required and let his dad take him out to the woodshed……………………

    Good work Bunnell PD!!!!!

  11. The Truth says:

    I passed this man walking down SR100 heading east towards Bunnell. I wondered why someone was riding a horse down the side of the road, very close to where cars were traveling at 50 mph. He was also not very attentive, checking his cell phone while he was walking.

    Anyone who believes this man should not have been arrested needs to give this a second look. This man was riding a horse down a road where cars travel at 50 mph nearly 5 ft from where he was walking. He was not paying attention, staring at his cell phone and intoxicated. He could have very easily steered the horse directly into traffic — endangering himself and everyone around him including his horse.

    If this man, whom I went to high school with, needs help — I hope he finds it, but he definitely deserved to be arrested under those charges.

    • ladyhawkjm says:

      Nice horse! Mine will ride along the highway without an issue so why couldn’t someone elses? it’s called training and conditioning. If the horse is used to it, and the horse it trained properly, its better than owning a car! Just takes a little longer to get where you are going! LOL

  12. Loriel says:

    I want to know if the horse is okay? Does anyone kinow?

  13. Rosella says:

    Free Skeeter !!!!!!!!

  14. laughingoutload says:

    he rode into the hood!!!!!! And you know anyone who was home came outside to witness the spectacle! LOL

  15. grandma's neighbour says:

    Charles cowart or “cowboy” as we call him… This man has the biggest heart and would give the shirt off his back for those he found to be Real! With a big heart comes big hurt , when heartless people misunderstand and mistreat you. This is the case with our friend cowboy. He has a broken heart and noone cares. When people he crys out to refuse to listen and be real friends to him, he goes looking for something to take him away from this pain mostly caused from the few cruel selfconsumed females he opened his heart to in past relationships. this raw wild cowboy is someone to have on your side. He’s not only a friend but has become our brother. He needs understanding and with passion. His heart is filled with Jesus and the truth! We have cried together, prayed together and helped one another. When cowboy has friends who will listen to him and love him, he dosnt turn to alcohol , he turns to God.

  16. hissy Fit says:

    This is the year 2012 and we live in a Police state. It IS A BASIC RIGHT of any USA citizen to NOT be asked by police what their name is or anything. it IS our right to refuse that engagement.. .whether you BELIEVE it or not. The police KNOW this. They simply ACT as if they do not. Once you speak, you have GIVEN UP your Right.

    The 4th Amendment gives us this right.
    The 5th amendment gives us the right to be silent and not incriminate ourselves.

    When they say (ANYTHING you say CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU), THEY MEAN IT. So keep your mouth shut!

    and the charge of Resisting without Violence is a BS Newly hatched Charge. It is ALSO against your …

    1st Amendment Rights as a Citizen of the United states of America.

    2nd Amendment – it IS NOT a crime to Keep and Bear Arms (someone said he had a knife)

    Im sure the horse would NOT have been injured if the man was left alone. So the charge of Cruelty to animals should be placed on the police for causing the ruckus.

    This man didnt commit a crime. anything they did, they caused and were made to look foolish at all the calamity THEY caused. Im willing to bet that the man has ridding over RR tracks 100’s of times on horses as well as Ridden on the highways. I cant count the number of people Ive seen riding horses along highways and the only accidents ive seen involving a car and a horse is when one gets out of a fenced area.

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