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MANHUNT IN SOUTH WALTON ENDS IN APPARENT SUICIDE

Sep 4th, 2009 | 0

Texas robbery suspect Matheos “Matthew” Pitikas, 24, sought since Friday’s high-speed pursuit and shootout in south Walton County, died Sunday, Aug. 30 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after being surrounded by Walton and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies.
The manhunt ended at around 12:40 p.m. Aug. 30, on East Mitchell Avenue, not far from where Pitikas had wrecked his pickup truck during the chase on Friday afternoon.
The chain of events began at around 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 28, when a Walton County Sheriff’s (WCSO) deputy stopped Pitikas because his pick-up truck matched the getaway vehicle used last month in a bank robbery in Houston, Texas. When stopped, Pitikas fired a handgun at the deputy. There was an exchange of gunfire, but the deputy was not struck. Pitikas drove off.
Prior to wrecking his truck and taking off in the surrounding woods, Pitikas exchanged gunfire with WCSO deputies along U.S. 98 in south Walton County. Speeds at times exceeded 90 miles per hour. Despite the shooting, no Walton County Sheriff’s deputies were injured.
Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson Jr. called the search “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, Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, FDOT Motor Vehicle Compliance, and the FBI.
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 grounded at the time.
Adkinson commended the residents of the Point Washington community: “[T]he 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.” Point Washington Preschool, South Walton Montessori School, and Bay Elementary School were put in lock-down during the incident Friday. The students from Bay Elementary School were bused from their school to the South Walton High School under deputy escort. In addition, the residents in the area provided sheriff’s deputies with water and other essentials before supplies could be brought to the personnel involved in the manhunt.
Pitikas’ body has been turned over to the Medical Examiner’s Office, and WCSO will investigate the shooting.

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