Man arrested trying to save dogs from house fire

Wendell Joyner arrested in Brevard

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County sheriff's deputies arrested a man Wednesday morning after they say he ignored firefighters' commands and tried to save his dogs from his burning home.

Brevard County Fire Rescue crews responded to 2387 Victor Road at around 5 a.m. Wednesday after someone called 911 to report the fire.

Fire investigators tell News 6 they found the home was full of smoke from a fire that appeared to start in a television and spread.

They say Wendell Joyner, 58, kept going inside his burning home to save his three dogs.

"I got out of the house, and then I realized, 'Oh, wait a minute, my dogs are in there, " Joyner said. "So, I went back inside to look for my dogs."

Joyner tells News 6 he kept getting overcome with smoke, and he had to keep coming outside to breathe.
He said he saw an opportunity when he grabbed a firefighter's ax and threw it through a front window to get access to his dogs.

Deputies tackled Joyner, roughing up his face.

Joyner says he was taken to a hospital for a CAT scan, and he was then taken to the Brevard County Jail, where he was booked on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

"My defense is -- I was trying to save my dogs," Joyner said.

Joyner's face was bloodied by the tackle, and he asked why deputies used so much force against him while his home was burning.

Brevard County sheriff's spokesman David Jacobs said his deputies suspected Joyner was intoxicated when they arrived, and they feared what he may have done with the ax if he was impaired.

He says the deputies charged Joyner with two misdemeanors, when they could have charged him with a felony for picking up the firefighter's ax.

"I think at the most, they should've taken me aside, and if they felt that I needed it -- to be in a squad car until things settled," he said.

Joyner's dogs were eventually rescued by Brevard County Fire Rescue crews.  They are now with Joyner and his roommate, who are staying with family members.

They've set up a GoFundMe page to help them rebuild.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013. He is one of the station’s lead reporters. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.