The man and the woman fleeing from cops in a stolen pick-up truck Thursday in Volusia and Flagler counties abandoned the truck on fire and ran into the woods before being chased down and arrested. But they’d left their two dogs in the burning truck.
One of the dogs fled and has not been accounted for. The other dog died in the flames.
Sarah Elizabeth Brooks 33, of Princeton, West Virginia, and Leonard I. Stephenson, 37, of Jacksonville, each face a felony charge of cruelty to animals. Stephenson faces six other charges, including an additional felony for repeatedly pushing away the sheriff’s K-9 that had bitten him during his apprehension. He also faces grand theft, fleeing and eluding and criminal mischief charges, all felonies, plus two misdemeanors. He was driving on a license that had been revoked in West Virginia.
The incident disrupted traffic on U.S. 1 and caused employees at Palm Coast Public Works’s facility on U.S. 1 to stay indoors as deputies searched for the two suspects in nearby woods.
According to police reports, Brooks and Stephenson had taken possession of a 2022 Chevy Silverado, reported stolen in Jacksonville that day (Thursday). The couple drove the pick-up to Volusia County, and was driving it north when Flagler County authorities were alerted to its whereabouts by a license plate reader, which signals detections of stolen vehicles.
Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies had eyes on the vehicles either on the ground or by air, from Flagler County Fire Flight, the emergency helicopter, as it drove through State Road 100, to I-95, to Matanzas Woods Parkway and to U.S. 1 south, where its tires were punctured by stop sticks. The vehicle crashed at U.S. 1 and Hargrove Grade, where Brooks and Stephenson bailed and ran. The truck had caught fire. Deputies had reported that the bed of the truck was filled with garbage, but there had been no mention of dogs aboard and no indication that authorities knew there was a dog in the truck when it was on fire.
Stephenson owned the two dogs. Their breed is not known. The vehicle was a total loss. “When deputies made contact with Mr. Stephenson and attempted to apprehend him,” his arrest report states, “K-9 Deputy First Class Dawson and his partner were utilized in apprehending Mr. Stephenson. During the K-9 apprehension, the suspect intentionally touched and struck a prominently marked sheriff’s K-9 displaying further resistance from law enforcement efforts to place him under arrest.” The report implies that Stephenson was reacting defensively, as individuals attacked by a dog instinctively might. He “pushed the K-9’s face multiple times in an effort to get the K-9 off of him.”
His arrest report lists a burglary charge, which would be an additional second degree felony. The court docket does not list that charge.
Stephenson is being held at the Flagler County jail on $103,500 bond. A no-contact order is in effect regarding Stephenson’s contact with Brooks. She was booked at the jail on the single, third-degree felony charge of cruelty to animals, and held on $22,000 bond. As of mid-afternoon Friday, both were still at the jail.
Two innocent dogs suffered because of these two low lifes. I hope the judge throws the book at them both.
They put those dogs in danger, our FCSO and the public in danger just for their joy ride in a stolen truck. How lose can you go, and this is pretty low.
This guy needs to check in to the cross bar hotel for an extended period!
I bet their TOX screens were interesting.
Remember the Tidy-Bowl man?
He asked them: “what brings you down here?”
They replied: “we’re making a raft.”
Dan Manchester says
Another Great Job by FCSO. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.
Robert Joseph Fortier says
Flagler County is NOT a place. criminals want to be. Best police force around, an Thank You All!