When it comes to crime in the Keys, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department will hold people accountable

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.

Traffic was a little busy over the Labor Day weekend, which was to be expected.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is the end of the summer, the big last push, it’s one of the busiest travel days anywhere. We’re not exempt from that. The traffic backlogs are generally dramatic. We had backlogs of traffic close to Marathon, all the way to the Upper keys, a two mile stretch for people trying to leave. They had a couple of hours to get out of the Keys. Not uncommon, but the day was safe, orderly, we had no major incidents. Overall, it was a safe, orderly end of the summer holiday weekend.”

The sheriff’s office also had preventative measures in place before the weekend.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This weekend, we always try to put extra manpower out whether it be for presence, visibility, PSAs, enforcement. So we saw a stronger presence of deputies doing traffic patrol, trying to do safety for bikes, trying to make sure that we can have our marine officers out. So we try to have good scheduling based on what’s occurring and bring the resources out that had the best possible outcomes, the best impacts.”

A homeless man tried to get away on a bicycle after he assaulted another homeless man on Stock Island recently.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “If I’m going to have a getaway vehicle, it’s probably not going to be a bicycle. But we see some random acts of homeless on homeless violence down here at times. This was not uncommon around the golf course where a lot of homeless hang out. We had two homeless people get into argument and one homeless man pulled a knife out and stabbed the other homeless person twice. The person survived. Had to be flown out on Trauma Star to an area hospital in Miami for trauma. So while we’re looking for the suspect, we knew who he was, he fled on foot. He had the knife still. He then confronted a person on a bicycle and committed the robbery, robbed the bicycle at knifepoint as his getaway vehicle. We found the bicycle s short time later abandoned. We ultimately eventually did find him.”

He was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and it’s possible that may be upgraded to attempted murder.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We also charged him with a strong armed robbery charge for stealing the bicycle. At least he’s off the streets. But that’s something we just deal with being a police officer, we deal with violent people and dangerous situation each and every day.”

A Miami-Dade Florida man was arrested on Saturday for threatening to kill another man with a knife in the Upper Keys.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is Gilbert’s Marina which is about 108 mile marker. Really nice place, nice tiki bar on the water, beach. A lot of a lot of activity on weekends from Miami. A pretty popular place again, they do a nice job, but they have a lot of alcohol, a lot of Miami influence. We had a 20-year-old male who got into some type of altercation, wound up punching a woman in the face, and then pulled a knife out and put a knife to a male’s throat, threatening to kill him. So we had sheriff’s deputies on scene really fast. We were able to contain, de-escalate the situation. We had everybody separated and we ultimately got good surveillance footage. They have a really good surveillance system. So we’re able to locate surveillance, which showed the incident take place and validated the victim’s accounts of what took place. We ultimately were able to arrest him on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge, battery for punching the female, multiple charges.”

Last week there was also a standoff when a Conch Key man shot at his roommate. No life-threatening injuries were reported, but there was a standoff.

Sheriff Ramsay explained, “Unfortunately, drug induced. Here’s a two people that live together. platonically not in a relationship but just the split rents. So the male is in one room, there’s a younger female who rents the other room. At some point in time, the sheriff’s office gets called about 10 o’clock at night by the suspect in this case. He calls reporting burglary, attempted burglary, letting officers know that he thought someone was trying to break in. He actually shot around from inside the house out towards where he thought there was an intruder.”

When officers arrived on scene, there was no sign of a break in.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We spoke to the female roommate who said I think I heard something. So it kind of left us in a situation that we didn’t believe it took place. But it was hard. When we have him saying someone tried to break in. She was quasi validating it. We couldn’t do much. So we didn’t take any action. Then later on that night, a few hours later, we get a call about shots fired. We get a couple of people call us, a neighbor and also in this case, the female roommate. What she reports is she heard a gunshot. He apparently went out on the balcony and shot around off the balcony. Then she heard the commotion, she came up and knocked on the door and said Peter, what’s going on? He says someone’s trying to break in the house. She says not again. Then he fired around from his bedroom at the door where she was on the other side of and then round went right through the door where she was standing, almost struck her. She got to the ground and got out of there fast as she could, as you imagine, called for help as well.

When officers arrived a second time, they found a barricaded situation.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “He’s in the house. He smashed all the windows out with his gun. He had a revolver and used the revolver, smashed the windows out of the house. While doing that he inadvertently slashed his wrist several times with the glass shards from the window frame. He dropped the gun when he cut himself real bad out the window. But he had several other guns in the house, AR15s, some other handguns, so this was a very heavily armed individual, a lot of ammunition. So we had a standoff there for about 45 minutes. We brought out hostage negotiators. We tried to get him to come out and told us go eff off, was non compliant, agitated, combative. She told us that he’d been doing meth before. And up to that time was on just a binge, a meth binge. At some point in time, we shined big spotlights in the house and at some point in time he said okay, I give up, come get me. We said no, we’re not going to come get you. He says I’m injured, come in there. We said no, we got medical attention here. Come out to us because we’re not going to go into a house with a person who’s got rifles, shotguns, handguns, is high on methamphetamines. So ultimately, he eventually did surrender. We immediately gave him medical attention on scene with Fire Rescue. We brought him to the hospital, got him stitched up, ultimately did charge him with attempted murder for shooting up the door where he knew the roommate was on the other side and various other charges. It just a shame to see someone at this level, destroying their lives. This is a 57 year old male, I believe. To see someone who’s addicted on drugs that don’t know where they’re at and is just doing meth all night long. This is part.”

A traffic stop recently found 16 ounces of methamphetamine, mixed with water, plus some guns and ammunition on two Lower Keys men on Friday.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “People going to Miami to pick up drugs to drive them back down to the Keys to try to sling drugs on our streets. These are drug user dealers who don’t care about lives, don’t care about destroying lives, people potentially dying. You have no desire to care about anybody else. This is a traffic stop about the 92 mile marker in Tavernier. During the traffic stop, we had our canine do a canine sniff who alerted to the presence of narcotics, which gave us probable cause to get in the car. We did find a large amount of narcotics and paraphernalia, methamphetamines and baggies with cocaine residue and whatnot. But also scary is when we see drugs, not uncommon to see guns. So what you saw here was 240 caliber handguns loaded in the vehicle with ammunition. So it just continued to tell us that we see more and more guns that are being introduced into drug related areas. In the past, we didn’t see as many guns when it came to drugs. But now it’s very common. So it’s more and more scary for officers to be out. People who tend to high on drugs, drug dealers don’t want to go back to jail or prison, armed, you’d have more potential for encounters, or even shoot outs which is the last thing we want. But it does highlight the danger of the job each and every day. We’re seeing across the nation these large upticks in narcotics. It’s all coming across the southwest border, flooding the United States.”

A lot of the drugs are incredibly addictive.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “The type of drugs that are out there these days are so much more deadly powerful and addictive than drugs in the past, which is just destroying this country. We’re seeing it in every community, I don’t care how prestigious, or how low on a poverty level, it’s rampant. We’re seeing it. We’re better than most communities. We have lesser drugs and more enforcement, but every week we’re talking about a drug related case these days and we’re just one of every other community deal with the same thing we’re dealing with.”

Fentanyl continues to be a problem.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Fentanyl is the most deadly thing out there. We’re seeing fentanyl mixed in with so many drugs out there. This is a 44 year old male from the Islamorada area was stopped for reckless driving after reports of a reckless truck. We stopped the vehicle, we found the driver to be impaired, drunk. During the course of this investigation and arrest we did come across meth. We did charge this individual with multiple charges. The big thing today on the list was that we got him off the road before he killed himself or somebody else. That’s the most important thing. We did hold him accountable for his impaired driving. We did hold him accountable for these narcotics, failing to register his vehicle. We’ve got to hold these people accountable. We’ve got to send a message if you commit violations of the law, you will be held accountable here. We’re going to do our part to keep our citizens safe and secure. Get these drugs and these guns and these drunks off the roads as best we can.”

High speed chases are becoming more and more prevalent across the country recently.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’re seeing it for a lot of reasons. We’re seeing it because most every police department and sheriff’s office have virtually no pursuit policies. When it gets too fast, too dangerous, you have to break it down and let the people just go, short of being a violent felony. So the criminals know these days that they keep going and eventually the cops are going to probably let them go.”

Other jurisdictions haven’t stopped and the suspect has actually called 911 to say the police have to break it off, they can’t keep chasing him because they know the policy.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We see more and more people that are potentially high on drugs and making poor decisions. We see a lot of different factors, but one of the bigger factors, again, is the no pursuit policies, which are a good thing. You can’t be driving 130 miles an hour chasing someone through heavy traffic for a speeding ticket. But we have to balance in, if they committed a murder, they’re wanted for some violent crime, are they going to hurt somebody else? What’s the traffic conditions? Daytime, nighttime, are we going to rural or congested areas? So we make a lot of decisions on what we’re going to do, and how long we’re going to chase, and how fast and how aggressively based on a lot of external factors and the environment. But we’re so lucky here that we have our Stinger spike system that we can spike these cars out. Every patrol car has a set of spikes in the trunk. So as soon as someone is not stopping, we’re immediately setting up a primary and secondary Stinger spike location to stop these pursuits as fast as possible, keep it safe as possible, and still get the bad guy or gal and get them off the streets, arrested and in jail. We’ve got a very effective system in place. We may break off, but we’re still looking for you and we’re planning ahead to reengage and then to stop these things. So our road system, our Stinger spike systems, and our physical plan in place has been really, really critical for public safety mission outcomes, and to be efficient, effective. I think we’ve got a good system.”