Deputies: Sarasota man arrested after driving through school playground

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Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 3:48 pm | Updated: 4:36 pm, Thu Oct 10, 2013.

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has arrested a Sarasota man in connection with an overnight crime spree that included fleeing from deputies and driving across the Brentwood Elementary School playground.

It all started around 3:30pm Tuesday along Webber Street in the Sarasota Springs area.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, a man later identified as 32-year-old John Kaafi was caught speeding on radar on Webber Street, and a deputy attempted to pull the vehicle over. The driver sped off and turned onto Stratford Drive, where he headed toward Brentwood Elementary. Authorities say he drove onto school property and through the school playground while students and faculty were present, then through a fence before speeding off.

That's when deputies called off the pursuit. Nobody at the school was injured.

A few hours later, a report of battery came in from Kaafi's residence on Glebe Farm Close in the Meadows area of Sarasota. The victim identified Kaafi and and probable cause was developed for his arrest.

Then around 3:30am, another victim said she went to Kaafi's residence, where authorities say the two got into an argument and battered her several times, causing injury. The victim told deputies that Kaafi was high on crack cocaine and acting crazy.

An hour later, a lieutenant spotted Kaafi's vehicle on Honore Avenue near Fruitville Road and attempted to pull him over. The vehicle sped off at a high rate of speed headed eastbound on Fruitville.

During the pursuit, which approached speeds of 80 miles per hour, the driver evaded stop sticks by driving onto the median and opposite lanes of traffic, before pulling onto Dog Kennel Road. The lieutenant found the vehicle stopped a short distance off Fruitville Road, and a woman in the car informed that Kaafi had fled on foot. He was later located in a wooded area near a residence by sheriff's office and a K9 unit after the resident said someone had entered his shed and attempted to steal his truck.

The woman in the car told deputies that she was also in the car during the pursuit through the school playground, and said that Kaafi told her that "I'm good at this and think that I can get away."

Kaafi, who has a significant criminal history, is currently charged with two counts of Fleeing to Elude, and one count each of Burglary and Attempted Vehicle Burglary. Additional charges are pending.

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