Crime

Drunk men in stolen car get stuck in a ditch and cause a school lockdown. Then they hid, police say

Two Sarasota men are facing charges after they were found hiding near a stolen car on elementary school property.

The chain of events began on Wednesday night, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a police report, a female driver left her car running while she went inside of a Sarasota store. The driver witnessed two males leave the store while she was inside. When she came back out, her car was gone.

Around 6 a.m. on Thursday morning, deputies responded to a report of a vehicle stuck in a ditch at Taylor Ranch Elementary in Venice.

It was the vehicle that was reported stolen, but there was no one inside.

The elementary school was placed under lockdown as law enforcement set up a perimeter and searched the area; K9 and aerial units were also called in.

Maintenance staff alerted deputies that a man was seen crawling out from underneath a maintenance trailer.

Deputies later located and detained the man, 29-year-old William Berry, who admitted to being a passenger in the stolen vehicle.

Berry then gave a description of the man who had allegedly been driving the vehicle. Deputies found 27-year-old Kollin Melton hiding under another nearby maintenance trailer.

Melton admitted to stealing the vehicle, driving past a gate and onto school grounds and getting the car stuck in a ditch. Berry said he was too intoxicated to remember the details of the car theft, according to the sheriff’s office.

Melton is charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, and both men are charged with trespassing on school grounds.

They remained in custody at Sarasota County Jail on Thursday.

Ryan Ballogg covers arts, entertainment, dining, breaking and local news for the Bradenton Herald. He won first place for feature writing in the Florida Press Club’s 2018 Excellence in Journalism Competition. Ryan is a Florida native and graduated from University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
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