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Knife-wielding shoplifter arrested after fleeing, hurting K-9, deputies say

Man stole $800 worth of items from Walmart, deputies say

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A knife-wielding man accused of shoplifting at Walmart was arrested Monday night after Volusia County deputies say he threatened a loss prevention officer and jumped into a creek to get away from a Sheriff's Office K-9.

Thomas D. Rice, 46, has been charged with armed robbery, grand theft, fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement, resisting arrest and an offense against a police dog in the incident, which started at the Walmart on Howland Boulevard.

Deputies said a Walmart loss prevention officer noticed Rice picking random items off the shelf before leaving the store without paying. When Rice was confronted by the officer, Rice pulled out a knife and told the officer, "Get back or I'll stab you." 

Rice then got into his vehicle and started to drive away, and the Walmart officer reached into the vehicle and grabbed a baseball bat stolen from the store and hit the driver's side door, according to a release from deputies.

Deputies said they attempted to pull over Rice on State Road 415, but Rice fled and turned down a dirt road before crashing into a dirt berm.

Rice ran into woods and jumped into a creek full of water as a deputy released K-9 Axe to apprehend him, according to deputies.

Deputies said Rice began digging keys into the top of Axe's head as he struggled to get away. The deputy took Rice into custody after Rice refused to drop the keys and stop hurting Axe.

Axe was bleeding from a cut on the top of his head and was taken to DeLand Animal Hospital for treatment, according to the release. 

Rice was taken into custody and to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial. 

Deputies found more than $800 worth of items in Rice's items.