BCSO Agents Jeremy Benton, Richard Preis Named North Precinct Deputies of the Month
By WAYNE IVEY, BREVARD SHERIFF // February 3, 2017
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Late in the afternoon on December 19, 2016, North Precinct Patrol Deputies responded to the area of US Highway 1 and Jefferson Street in Mims after hearing several gunshots in the area.
The responding Deputies subsequently determined that the gunshots had originated from the Mims Mini-Mart, located at 2399 US Highway 1 in Mims.
During the rapidly evolving incident, initial information collected by Deputy Willard Freeman suggested that a male subject had fired several rounds from the parking lot of the Mini-Mart and fled southbound in a dark vehicle.
Deputy Freeman also determined that a vehicle in the parking lot had been struck by a single round, as had a residence immediately adjacent to the store.
Additional information relayed to the Deputies from our Communications Center indicated that a shooting had also just occurred within the city limits of Titusville that involved a vehicle matching the general description of the suspect vehicle that had fled from the scene in Mims.
Additionally, the Titusville Police Department was able to provide a tag number for the vehicle involved within their jurisdiction.
As the incidents were unfolding Agents Richard Preis and Jeremy Benton heard the details of the incident over the radio and immediately responded to the area to assume the investigation.
Upon arrival, Agent Preis assumed the lead and appropriately directed expansion of the crime scene to ensure that all potential evidence was preserved for documentation and collection by our Crime Scene Unit.
It was eventually determined that the suspect had fired a total of 23 rounds (21 were .223 casings and 2 were 9mm casings) and four victims were identified.
Fortunately, the victims were not hit by the gunman, but two had been in the vehicle when it was struck by a single round, while the other two victims were in their home across the street from the store when it was also hit by gunfire.
Realizing that the two cases were related, Agent Preis coordinated his investigation with the lead officer in the Titusville investigation. Agent Benton assisted Agent Preis and was able to reach out to various professional contacts in Titusville to obtain information as well.
The tag was registered to a female who was not believed to be involved, but was known to be the girlfriend of a known violent offender.
Through researching social media and discussion with other officers, Agent Benton was able to link various bits of information together in order develop two possible suspects that are known to commit similar crimes. His knowledge of the known criminals in the area and his ability to connect the various investigative leads significantly assisted in directing the focus of the investigation.
After conducting interviews with the victims and witnesses that had initially been identified, only vague information about the suspect was available.
As the investigation continued to progress, Agent Preis located a victim that had also been an occupant of the vehicle that was shot by the suspect.
Through an interview with the newly identified victim, Agent Preis was able to positively identify the shooter and develop probable cause for an arrest.
The suspect was also positively confirmed as one of the male subjects that Agent Benton was able to develop through his investigative efforts.
At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that the shooter had fired several rounds from an AR type weapon, possibly intending to hit a rival traveling southbound on US 1.
During the gunfire, the shooter fired a round into a nearby vehicle that was occupied by two innocent females. Further, at least two rounds struck a home across the street that was occupied by an elderly couple, with those rounds penetrating deep into the home.
One round went through the front wall and into a toaster oven that the residents were actively cooking their dinner with, while the other round entered the front wall of the home, exited the rear wall, and entered the homeowner’s camper that was parked behind their house.
Thankfully, none of the innocent bystanders were harmed during the shooting.
As a result of the investigation, Agent Preis obtained an arrest warrant for the shooter for multiple felony charges that clearly endangered the lives of innocent citizens.
The actions of the suspect put numerous lives at risk and is unfortunately the type of criminal activity that checkers the individuals past.
As a result of their performance and swift actions in conducting the criminal investigation Agent Preis and Agent Benton were named as the Deputies of the Month for our North Precinct.
Please join me in congratulating both Agents for their exceptional performance and in being named Deputy of the Month.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey has been a law enforcement officer for over three decades. Sheriff Ivey is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and has a Bachelor’s Degree from Daytona State College in Management and Supervision. Sheriff Ivey’s background in law enforcement is inclusive of Management, Criminal Investigations, Narcotics, Patrol Services, Public Integrity Investigations, and Corrections.
Prior to being elected in 2012, Sheriff Ivey served the citizens of the State of Florida as a Resident Agent in Charge for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. As a member of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Sheriff Ivey developed and created the country’s first ever statewide Task Force on Identity Theft. That same year the Task Force was named one of the top five most innovative programs in the country by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and investigated approximately 44 million dollars in fraud cases. Additionally, as a member of FDLE, Sheriff Ivey created the Child Abduction Response Team (C.A.R.T) that re-defined the way Child Abduction cases are conducted throughout the country today. The program was later selected as the most innovative program in the country by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and is now used as a nationwide model in the response and investigation of child abductions.
Sheriff Ivey has testified before the United States Congress on law enforcement related matters and has extensive experience in the area of Public Integrity Investigations. Sheriff Ivey was honored as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Special Agent of the Year (1996) and was also recognized by the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for his Outstanding Contributions to Criminal Justice. In August of 2011 Sheriff Ivey was honored by the National Organization of Victims Advocacy for his work at the national level as an advocate of victim’s rights and protection.
Sheriff Ivey speaks regularly on topics such as Identity Theft, Crime in America, Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, and Self Defense through Mental Preparedness. Sheriff Ivey firmly believes that Crime Prevention and Education are vital to reduce our crime rate and protect our community.