When Sean Monti isn’t in prison-he’s spent half his adult life in state prison or county jail-he’s making a habit of getting chased by police in the strangest circumstances.
Almost two years ago he managed to evade an entire SWAT team after a stand-off in Seminole Woods. Today he sent deputies chasing him from the Flagler County Courthouse all the way to the Bunnell water plant across the street-and into a relatively small water filtration tank there, inside the plant’s operational building (not in the big, visible tanks outside), where he dove in. Deputies pulled him out and added burglary and criminal mischief charges.
The Bunnell water plant—which last made news when its water levels fell, shutting down the operation in September–is a secure facility normally strictly off limits to the public. How Monti managed to get into the plant may have exposed a vulnerability.
“He climbed the fence even though it had the barbed wire at the top,” Bunnell City Manager Dan Davis said. “He was persistent, he cut himself up and I don’t know how long it took him, we’re going to have to look at that and see if our fence is tall enough.”
Once he cleared the fence, he slipped into the operations building itself, climbed up a set of stairs and dove into the eight-by-eight, 9,000-gallon tank.
“The building itself, the garage door was wide open because there was a lot of activity going on,” Davis said, with one contractor working on an air compressor and the general contractor that built the facility going through punch-list items. “So we don’t always keep the building totally locked down and shut. If there’s only one guy there and he’s the operator, then yes, but this was a time when there was a lot of work going on. So once he was able to jump over the fence he was able to run into the building.”
The water had to be drained, the tank cleaned and the water replaced at a cost of around $500, according to Monti’s arrest report. Davis later told the sheriff’s office that decontaminating and refilling the tank would take 72,000 gallons, and cost about $1,000.
Monti this morning was appearing in court to plead guilty on a petit theft charge dating back to May, when he was accused of stealing money from the purse of an employee at Metro Diner in Palm Coast, where he’d worked.
Deputies had been speaking with his long-time live-in girlfriend, who told them that about two weeks ago she’d had an argument with him. Monti, she told deputies, “then grabbed her, picked her up in the air, and threw her down on the tile floor because he was mad,” according to his arrest report. The alleged victim and Monti have a 7-year-old son in common. He witnessed the incident. The alleged victim told deputies she was scared of Monti and did not call police because they share a phone and he is always with her.
Florida Hospital Flagler confirmed to a deputy that the alleged victim, who had an arm wrap around her left arm and said it was broken, had been a patient there on Nov. 8, where she’d gone for a follow-up appointment. At that point deputies found out that Monti was in court on a previous charge. When they got there, he was walking out of the first-floor elevator.
At first Monti appeared compliant when deputies asked him to turn around and put his hands behind his back. But then he tensed up, and ran out of the courthouse-through the metal-detector zone that’s usually busy with bailiffs and security personnel. A deputy chased him, ordering him to stop, but Monti kept going. Another deputy continued the foot chase while the first decided to chase with his patrol car. The deputies then located Monti inside the water plant, suggesting that Monti at least for a while had the time to persistently try to make it over the fence and the barbed wire. A water plant employee had seen him run up the metal squares to the filtration tank.
Again Monti allegedly refused to come down until deputies had to retrieve him from the water tank to arrest him on charges of aggravated battery-domestic violence, burglary, and criminal mischief. He was also facing a grand theft and obstruction charge on a separate case. Monti, 42, of 16 Emmons Lane in Palm Coast, is being held without bond at the Flagler County jail.
In early March 2015, a SWAT team had gone to a house at Squash Blossom Trail in Palm Coast with an arrest warrant for Monti: he had violated a no-contact order with his girlfriend, and violated a pre-trial release agreement. The SWAT team was necessary because of his history of fleeing. But while a neighbor and deputies spotted him briefly at some point, he got away. He was arrested three days later by the Daytona Beach Police Department. He served a six-month prison sentence.
Monty was last released from state prison in mid-January. He’s served in prison from 2010 to 2013 and from 1999 to 2007 on a long list of charges, including burglary, escape, aggravated assault, armed burglary, cocaine possession and trafficking in stolen goods.