TAVARES, Fla. - A man who had open warrants for his arrest hit an officer, fled into a pond after being hit with a Taser, then hid in a pond where he attempted to drown a K-9 that apprehended him, according to the Tavares Police Department.
In a pair of tongue-in-cheek Facebook posts that have been shared hundreds of times, police said that the incident Friday morning began with a call about a suspicious person near Waterman Way.
"He's just wandering through the parking lot and I don't know what he's up to," the caller said.
Austin Winters, 22, initially gave authorities a fake name to conceal the fact that he had open warrants on aggravated battery charges, police said.
The department posted shortly after 7 a.m. that Winters fled despite being tasered multiple times then jumped into a pond behind Florida Hospital Waterman. With a search underway, police promised to keep the public updated as the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Eagle One helicopter unit and a K-9 were sent in to assist.
They ended the post with #DontRun #ItsTooEarly #WeHaventHadOurCoffeeYet.
The update came less than 90 minutes later when Tavares police posted that an arrest had been made in the case.
"Mr. Austin Winters decided it was a good idea to hit our officers, flee from capture, hide in a pond, attempt to drown the K-9 (who subsequently took a bite outta crime), and fight with deputies-all over a warrant. Looks like you’ll have a few more charges Mr. Winters," the post read.
The status update included a series of photos showing Winters soaking wet, covered in pond gunk with his T-shirt ripped nearly to shreds. K-9 Eyk, his handler Deputy James Simmons and another Lake County deputy -- also drenched -- look proud albeit exhausted in the final photos.
Simmons said Winters put up a fight while in the water and refused to surrender. He described the moment when he said Winters tried to drown his K9 partner.
"Once I got into the water, Mr. Winters grabbed him by his [collar] and began to pull him, pulling him underneath the water," Simmons said.
Another snarky set of hashtags concluded the post: #FishEmOutFriday #PondScum #EykTookABiteOutOfCrime #WeAreHavingOurCoffeeNow #ThatPondHadGators.
Commenters were quick to chime in on the events, many poking fun at Winters while others applauded authorities for having a sense of humor about the wacky arrest and "killing the hashtag game."
"Dummy of the year award goes to this guy," one man wrote.
Social media users showed the most concern for Eyk.
"Poor pup! We are glad he was ok," Tavares police replied to one commenter who condemned Winters for reportedly trying to hurt the animal.
News 6 spoke to Winters after he was booked into the Lake County jail. He said he felt in fear for his life, saying the officers were surrounding him, and that is why he ran.
"It's a natural reaction when someone starts shooting tasers at you and stuff," Winters said.
Winters claims he complied with law enforcement officers and said he did not intentionally try to drown the K9. He said the dog was biting his arm and the dog went underwater with him when they both fell.
"I felt like he was trying to gnaw my arm off," Winters said.
Winters claims he did nothing wrong.
Winters was charged with resisting an officer with violence, five counts of battery on an officer, loitering or prowling and touching or striking a police animal.
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