Armed Suspect Arrested After Hour-Long Search; Multiple Charges Pending

On 12/20/2017, at approximately 8:10 am, the office manager of Southwest Lawn Service located at 25491 Fortran Drive, in Punta Gorda, Florida 33982, contacted the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office in reference to an employee, Wade Lee Brown (11/28/1992), who came to work wielding a firearm.

Brown, Wade
Wade Brown, from an arrest in March 2017

The employees reported that Brown took several shirts out of his backpack and placed them on a desk, stating that he was going through a lot and was in a bad place. The manager advised that Brown appeared under the influence, as he was acting “weird” and could not stand still.  Brown then pulled a black handgun out of the backpack and waived it in the air. Employees advised he stated he “was going back to the gangster life and not dealing with this anymore.”

The employees reported that Brown continued to take out the gun, waive it around, and then place it back in his pocket while speaking to them. Brown then departed the business prior to deputies arriving on scene.

A search for Wade Brown began utilizing a police canine, aviation, and multiple road patrol and specialty units. The Punta Gorda Police Department locked down public schools and daycares in the area and provided officers for the perimeter. Notifications of the school lockdowns as well as Brown’s description were released through Alert Charlotte and CCSO Social Media channels.

At approximately 9:00am, deputies met with Michael Grasso in front of Charlotte Behavioral Health Center on Education Avenue. Grasso reported that at the intersection of Airport and Taylor, he observed Wade Brown approach the vehicle in front of him and point a gun at the driver. Grasso heard Brown demand the driver pull over, at which time the driver accelerated and struck Brown’s bicycle. Grasso stated that Brown regained control of his bicycle, and then approached his vehicle. Grasso stated that Brown pointed a gun in his direction and demanded he pull over. Grasso drove away to the Education Avenue location and called 911. A second witness was located in the same area who reported observing Wade Brown stopping vehicles in the roadway while waiving a gun at them.

At 9:32 am, Brown was located at the intersection of East Marion Avenue and Elliott Street, Punta Gorda, approximately 200 feet from his residence at 6153 Elliott Street.  Brown was walking in a direction indicating he was coming from the area of his residence and had changed his clothing.

Wade Brown has four felony convictions, which would prevent him from possessing a firearm. Wade Brown was transported to the Charlotte County Jail and is currently charged with Carjacking. At the time of this release, the firearm reported to be in his possession has not been located. Further charges are pending as the investigation continues.

Witnesses to these events who have not provided a statement to law enforcement, specifically the drivers observed by others stopped by Brown in the roadway, are asked to call in to 639-2101 and request to speak to the Major Crimes Unit.

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