CLEARWATER BEACH — Police said a man broadcast a drive on Clearwater Beach on Thursday, according to reports.
Around 4:26 p.m., Clearwater Police Department started receiving calls reporting a man was driving on the beach, possibly wanting to take out a police cruiser or building, and broadcasting it on Facebook Live, according to Bradenton Herald news partner Bay News 9.
Police secured the office’s front doors, evacuated the building and placed extra officers nearby as a precaution, according to Bay News 9.
Several attempts were made to stop the driver, Ryan Stiles, 27, after police tracked him to downtown Clearwater. Stiles refused to follow commands, and police called the situation a “public threat,” according to Bay News 9.
The Facebook Live broadcast was laced with profanity and lasted about four minutes.
“He actually stayed pretty close to the dunes and not off to the water where you could see a lot of people out there,” said Clearwater Deputy Chief Donald Hall in a press conference.
Hall took the time to thank civilians who reported the incident “because this could have been really, really bad if we didn’t get those calls.”
Stiles was taken into custody on Caladesi Island, where he stopped his car. Police told Bay News 9 “all indications were that Stiles had been drinking” before his evasive driving took him onto the beach itself.
No one was injured, but witnesses told Bay News 9 it was “unreal.”
“He came close to hitting the people on the beach. Of course, he got off and got out of sight, but you heard the sirens for the next 10-15 minutes,” Jeff Vance told Bay News 9.
When he was taken into custody, Stiles reportedly started swinging his belt, causing damage to glass in the door at police headquarters.
Stiles faces charges of reckless driving, fleeing and eluding, driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license, hit and run with property damage, felony criminal mischief and threatening a public servant.
“Other charges may be forthcoming for his jaunt into Caladesi Island,” a Clearwater Police Department Facebook post read.
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