The town of High Springs was on high alert yesterday as troopers, deputies, and officers from multiple agencies, including the Alachua (ACSO) and Columbia County Sheriff's Office (CCSO), the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), and the High Springs Police Department (HSPD) essentially locked down the community in pursuit of three suspects believed to be involved in a robbery and shooting at the Vegas One Casino in Columbia County at about 4:50am.
During the manhunt, units from the HSPD, ACSO, FHP, Gainesville Police Department, Florida Wildlife Commission, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Department of Corrections joined CCSO as the area was cordoned off and K-9 teams deployed.
A Columbia County Sheriff's spokesperson described it this way in a release from Monday morning:
"At about 4:50 am, deputies responded to the Vegas One Casino in Columbia County due to 911 calls of a robbery and shooting. A nearby deputy saw a vehicle leaving at a high rate of speed and attempted to stop it as other units responded to the casino. The vehicle failed to stop and fled southbound on 441 with units in pursuit.
On the scene, deputies discovered a male employee at the business suffering from an injury to his upper body. Witnesses at the business reported three masked subjects entered the casino, robbing it and shooting the employee before fleeing.
The victim was airlifted to a Gainesville Hospital; his condition is unknown at the time of this release.
The vehicle pursuit continued into High Springs where it stopped near U.S. 441 and NW 222 St, and the suspects fled on foot. Units from High Springs PD, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, FHP, Gainesville PD, FWC, FDLE and DOC joined CCSO as the area was cordoned off and K9 teams deployed.
One of the suspects was found in the backyard of a nearby neighborhood after nearly 90 minutes of searching by the FHP, Columbia and Alachua County deputies, a SWAT team and K9s.
The pursuit of the other suspects continued until around 6pm when the ACSO and CCSO released statements that 'All units were leaving the area, the perimeter is being broken down, and all leads involving ground searching have been exhausted."
Arrested was Caleb Bowers, 19, of Alachua. He was charged with 1st degree robbery with a firearm. He was transported to the Alachua County Jail.
According to his arrest report, the vehicle pursuit reached speeds of approximately 135 mph. before travelling into Alachua County and came to a complete stop in the middle of the road. During a search of the vehicle, deputies found what appeared to be a fully loaded AR-15 rifle in the passenger side seat along with body armor containing rifle plates and a semi-automatic handgun in the back driver side floor board.
The extensive search led to a residence where they located Bowers.
There have been no new developments reported by any of the agencies involved in the ongoing investigation.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office, and Columbia County Sheriff's Office contributed to this report.