MANATEE -- Charles Michael Wells, son of Col. Rick Wells, the No. 2 at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, was charged early Saturday with fleeing to elude law enforcement and possession of marijuana and heroin.
A deputy with the sheriff's office received information that Wells, 25, was in the county to purchase heroin, according to an arrest report. He received a tag and vehicle description as well as the road Wells may be traveling on at the time, and found his license was suspended on Dec. 2.
The deputy located the vehicle heading north on U.S. 19 toward the Sunshine Skyway. Once Wells spotted the patrol vehicle he accelerated into a residential area "quickly and recklessly," according to the report.
The deputy said Wells was going faster than 80 mph on residential streets with a posted speed limit of 30 mph and that his vehicle ran off the shoulder of the roadway several times. The deputy then activated his lights and siren, but Wells did not stop.
After about a mile of reckless driving and half a mile with the deputy's lights activated, Wells turned down a dead-end street, stopped the vehicle and put his hands out the window at 12:31 a.m., according to the deputy.
Wells, according to the report, told the deputy he had seen him on the side of the road and knew the deputy was coming to stop him but never saw him activate his lights or heard the sirens, so the deputy could only charge him with reckless driving and not fleeing to elude. He said he was not driving fast to get away from law enforcement, but that he "usually drives 100 mph plus down this roadway all the time just for fun," according to the report.
Wells said he had a pipe in the vehicle to smoke marijuana with but nothing more, according to the deputy. He consented to a search and the deputy found the pipe with marijuana residue, a scale and baggies. A search of the roadway about 200 yards from the stop point yielded several small bags of both heroin and marijuana, which the deputy said he believes Wells tossed from the vehicle during the chase.
Wells was charged with fleeing to elude law enforcement and drug possession. He was released from the Manatee County jail on Monday on bonds totaling $5,500.
Col. Wells announced in July he would be running in the 2016 campaign to replace his boss, Sheriff Brad Steube, who is retiring.
"Our family loves Michael very much and we'll continue to support him during this time. We hope he gets the help that he needs," Col. Wells said of his son. He declined further comment.