Sheriff: South Walton Residents “stay indoors”

August 28, 2009

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Update: Manhunt over – suspect dead

South Walton County, FL (August 30, 2009) – 2:00 p.m.
The suspect that has been sought in regard to Friday’s High Speed pursuit across U.S. Highway 98 in South Walton County has been found dead in the Point Washington area.   At this time, no additional details are being released concerning the death. Check with your local news media as a press conference will be held this afternoon.
12:48 p.m. Aug. 30

The bank robber was apprehended on E. Mitchell Ave. off of Bay Drive…. Details to follow!

3:45 p.m. Aug. 29

Suspect Search Continues

All available Walton County Sheriff’s Personnel continue to search for Matheos “Matthew” Pitikas.  The 24-year-old is believed to be the suspect who led Walton County Sheriff’s Deputies on a “high Speed” pursuit” along U.S. Highway 98 Friday afternoon.  With speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour, Pitikas exchanged gunfire with law enforcement officers before crashing his Dodge pick-up truck off Walton County Road 283 in the Point Washington Community.  The suspect was last seen running into the surrounding woods.
Initially at around 12:30 Friday afternoon, a Walton County Deputy stopped the suspect because his pick-up truck matched the getaway vehicle used last month in a bank robbery in Houston, Texas.  At the time of yesterday’s stop, Pitikas fired a handgun at the deputy. There was an exchange of gunfire, and fortunately the deputy was “not” struck.
The suspect is described as being five-foot-six inches tall, and around 175 pounds.  He has brown hair and brown eyes.  He also reportedly has a go-tee beard.  Pitikas’ hair may be longer than last seen on his  picture.
Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson Jr. says “the search for Pitikas is one of the largest Manhunts’ which has ever taken place in Walton County.”   Besides going door-to-door, personnel from numerous local and state agencies supplied equipment and manpower to assist in conducting an aerial and water search for the suspect.  Those agencies included the Bay and Okaloosa County Sheriff Offices’; The Florida Highway Patrol; The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the FDOT Motor Vehicle Compliance; and the FBI.
Sheriff Adkinson also requested assistance from Eglin Air Force Base in regard to the aerial search.  The military personnel expressed a willingness to help, but were unfortunately grounded at the time.

Sheriff Adkinson also wants to commend the residents of the Point Washington Community.  The Sheriff says “the patience displayed by the parents of the elementary and pre-school children who had to be evacuated out of the affected area yesterday was outstanding”.  Under tense circumstances, their help proved tremendous in getting the kids out of possible harm’s way.  The Sheriff adds “that ensuring the safety of those children was his top priority”.
In addition, the residents in the area provided Sheriff Deputies’ with water and other essentials before supplies could be brought to the personnel involved in the Manhunt.
Although the search has moved to a new phase, a large presence of  Walton County Sheriff’s Office Deputies continue to patrol the area where the suspect was last seen at more than 24-hours-ago.  Residents in the area are asked to remain vigilant and to continue to make sure their doors and vehicles are “locked” at all times’.  Do not open your door unless you know the person, or unless it’s a uniformed law enforcement officer who properly identifies him or herself.
If you may see the suspect, or a suspicious person in the area, contact the Walton County Sheriff’s Office immediately at (850) 892-8111.

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8:30 p.m. Aug. 28 – At this time federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are assisting the Walton County Sheriffs Office in a man hunt for a suspect considered armed and dangerous.  The search is taking place across a densely wooded area of South Walton County from Santa Rosa Beach to the Bay County line.

The suspect is believed to be Matheos (Matthew) Pitikas.  A 24 year old believed responsible for a bank robbery in Houston, Texas last month.  He is described as a white male

Earlier post:
DeFuniak Springs, FL (August 28, 2009) – Walton County Sheriff’s Deputies are currently looking for a suspect in the Point Washington area. The suspect led deputies on a chase down Highway 98 ending on Highway 283.
Currently all traffic is stopped at Highway 283 and at Highway 395. Deputies and other Law Enforcement agencies are in the area searching for the suspect. Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson urges residents in the area who are at home to remain indoors with doors and windows locked. Residents should not open their doors for anyone other than a uniform patrol deputy.
It is important that residents do not go outside for any reason. If they see anyone suspicious around their home or neighborhood they should call 911 immediately. Point Washington Preschool, South Walton Montessori School, and Bay Elementary School are currently in lock down. The students from Bay Elementary School are being bused from their school to the South Walton High School under deputy escort. Parents can go to the South Walton High School to pick up their student.
The suspect is armed and dangerous.
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