32-year-old man facing multiple charges for incident that placed multiple schools on lockdown in Sarasota
SARASOTA (WWSB) - Police have taken 32-year-old Richard Cox into custody as the suspect in Friday’s incident on Fruitville Road at McIntosh that placed several schools under lockdown.
Cox has been charged with grand theft auto, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery, and resisting an officer.
The incident began Friday afternoon. Deputies were called by the victim, who reported that Cox had stolen her vehicle after breaking down her bedroom door and taking her keys and that he had forcibly dragged her out of the bathtub the night before, injuring her. He had been living with her for about a week.
Thirty minutes later, the victim called back to say Cox had returned with the vehicle, but she locked him out of the apartment. Deputies say when Cox found the door locked, he argued with the victim and forced the door open. The victim told Cox she was calling the police, but deputies say Cox displayed a black handgun and said, “The police can’t do anything to me.”
Cox gathered clothing from the apartment and then fled.
Multiple law enforcement vehicles, K9 officers, and a helicopter responded to the scene. Deputies say Cox fled the scene on foot with a handgun, prompting the lockdown of several nearby schools, including McIntosh Middle, Sarasota Academy of the Arts and the Learning Academy.
Cox was caught near the parking lot of Temple Emanu El on McIntosh. Deputies say he refused commands to get on the ground and ultimately had to be tasered to be taken into custody.
Deputies say when they spoke with him, Cox admitted grabbing the victim by the shoulders the night before, but denied pulling her from the tub. They say he also admitted to taking the vehicle, but later brought it back after speaking to the victim’s father over the phone. Cox also reportedly told deputies that he did force open the door to the apartment out of anger, but denied ever threatening the victim with a gun.
Cox is currently being held on $102,000 bond in the Sarasota County Jail.
It was a scary situation for parents, who were alerted by schools in the area that their children were being held in lockdown due to the ongoing manhunt.
Jeffrey Lewis was trying to pick up his son at the Learning Academy. “We arrived at around 3:30, I walked up to the door and everything was in black and there was a sign on the door stating that there was an emergency, no one can come in or out and everybody has to stay in their vehicles,."
Once Cox was captured, the lockdown was lifted.
“All of the protocols that we’ve put into place went swimmingly well in terms of the school being able to call a lockdown independent," said Tracey Beeker, Spokesperson for the Sarasota County School District. "And making sure that they’re working with their SROs and SRDs and local law enforcement, in terms of making sure those children remain safe.”
Vince Hulsman has a daughter in 7th grade at McIntosh Middle. He’s satisfied with the way everything was handled.
“It’s reassuring to know that the county and the school takes this so seriously and at no point did I feel like my daughter was in danger, but obviously there’s always concern when these things happen,” said Hulsman.
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