Just before 8:00 am this morning, St Johns County deputies, armed with a search warrant, attempted to enter a mobile home at 6481 San Pietro Isle in St Augustine; however, when the occupants opened the door, instead of coming out — they released three angry pit bulls.
The occupants, 54 year-old Robert Dean Horsley and 55 year-old Wiley Lionel Horsley, were arrested at the scene. A third suspect is still being sought for questioning.
Additional charges are pending as the investigation continues. The Horsley’s are being held without bond until their arraignment hearing in the morning.
Corporal Catherine Payne told Historic City News reporters that deputies were aware that there have been previously reported dog bites at that address. The warrant stemmed from an investigation into an alleged methamphetamine lab operated at the location. Payne told reporters that the agency was aware the occupants have attempted escape from law enforcement in the past.
Because of that intelligence, the members of the Special Investigations Unit were accompanied at the scene by members of the Special Weapons and Tactics team.
After five minutes of using a public address system to attempt to get the occupants to come out of the home, an individual yelled, “they are coming out.” According to the incident report, the door opened, two pit bulls were released and the door was closed again.
The dogs immediately ran towards a SWAT team member; one dog reportedly bit the deputy in the leg. The deputy that was bitten was treated at the scene.
Both dogs were subsequently shot. One dog ran under the trailer. It was captured later by Animal Control. Due to the extent of its injuries, a local Veterinarian euthanized the animal. The other dog ran into the woods. Its whereabouts are still unknown.
After the first two shots were fired, one of the occupants released a third pit bull from the mobile home. Payne said the animal aggressively ran toward another deputy and was shot and killed.
Deputies and Animal Control officers continue to search for the missing dog in the area off Venetian Boulevard, east of US-1, north of the airport. Anyone who encounters an injured pit bull is asked to contact the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office or Animal Control and warned not to attempt to approach the animal.