SWAT Team Serves Search Warrant at House of Man at Center of Puppy-Shooting Controversy
FlaglerLive | March 4, 2016
Last Updated: 5:15 p.m.
A day after the completion of a necropsy of the puppy found dead with apparent bullet wounds in Palm Coast’s W Section last week, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office this afternoon served a search warrant at the house of Miles Smith, at 31 Lago Vista Place.
Smith, 31, had taken ownership of the dog three weeks ago from his neighbor, who say he shot the dog last week and sent them a picture of it, lying dead in his bathtub. Though he changed his story several times in an interview with FlaglerLive, he acknowledged texting the image, but only out of concern, and to inform his neighbors about the dog’s fate. He denied shooting it or harming it in any way. He said the dog had been hit by a car. (See details of that interview and background on the story here.)
A so-called mini-SWAT team was used to serve the warrant. Neighbors say the SWAT team used loudspeakers to announce themselves several times, and a ram-rod to break down the door. Smith had said in an interview earlier this week that he would not be speaking with police, and had ended an encounter with a deputy last week by walking back into his house.
“We are executing a search warrant,” Jim Troiano, the sheriff’s chief spokesman, said this afternoon. “The mini SWAT team was used to ensure the protection of our people based on information we’ve received so far in this investigation. We didn’t want a situation to become high-risk.”
Though Smith denies it, his neighbors say he has guns and shoots them often.
“We had a quiet neighborhood up until five months ago when he moved in,” one neighbor, an older woman who lives two doors down from Smith, said. “I have heard them off and on,” she said of Smith’s alleged guns.
“He’ll shoot them off in the backyard. Bang, bang, bang,” another neighbor, who lives further down the street, said.”
The cul de sac has been busy with reports of criminal mischief to the sheriff’s office. Jim Canfield, the former mayor of Palm Coast, lives across the cul de sac from Smith’s house. Last month he said a brick was thrown through his car window, which he has since repaired. Of Smith, Canfield said today, “he’s very smart. He does a lot of things that you can’t prove he’s doing.”
Next door to Canfield, Jason Pellicer has had his SUV’s side and back windows shot out by BB pellets. The windows are still broken.
Smith said earlier this week he as not responsible for any such incidents.
Troiano said deputy Williams, who is in charge of the investigation, aided by others, will “search for items or items that are going to be or would be named in the search warrant.” But, he added, “There’s no arrest taking place.”
“Were not there executing an arrest warrant it’s only a search warrant,” Troiano said.
Asked if the necropsy of the puppy confirmed whether bullets were found in the dog, Troiano said: “I’m not going to be able to provide that information at this time as it’s part of the investigation.”
The timing of the search warrant and the completed necropsy may not be coincidental. If, in fact, the necropsy revealed evidence such as bullets, the search may be directed at firearms in the house, which could then be tied to the bullets found in the dog.
At 4:30 p.m., the search was still ongoing. Just after 4:30 p.m., in a wrinkle only Quentin Tarantino could have scripted, a UPS delivery truck pulled into the cul de sac, and a delivery man stood outside the house, holding a small, rectangular package for “M. Smith.” Briefly befuddled, the delivery man walked up to one of the detectives, who escorted him to the house. He made his delivery to Smith.
It was a video game.
At 5 p.m., detectives were seen hauling off two archive boxes’ worth of objects or evidence, some of it in bulging manilla envelopes, which they placed in the CSI truck. They ungloved themselves and sanitized their hands, their work apparently completed. At 5:08 p.m., the half dozen law enforcement officers who’d been involved in the search closed the door on 31 Lago Vista Place and began driving off, one vehicle at a time.
Smith had never made an appearance outside until, at 5:11 p.m., he trotted out, in a dark t-shirt and shorts, to hand the CSI investigator something. He then went back into his house. At 5:15 p.m., all law enforcement had cleared the scene.