Theft Suspect In Custody After Attempting to Drown Patrol Canine While Evading Arrest

Johnson 2
Matthew Johnson in a May 2018 booking photo

Update (11/26/18) – Matthew Johnson was taken into custody on Olean Blvd in Port Charlotte today after detectives received tips on his location.

Deputies with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office are seeking the public’s assistance locating a retail theft suspect who evaded capture on Sunday. Matthew Christopher Johnson (4/3/81), of Port Charlotte, was detained on November 4 by deputies during an investigation into a retail theft that occurred at the 7-11 in Port Charlotte, 3362 Tamiami Trail. Johnson and another male were stopped by a deputy in the parking lot of the business after they were identified by the clerk as suspects in the theft.

While the deputy was speaking to the clerk, Matthew Johnson fled the scene on his bicycle. Deputies set up a perimeter and Corporal Mills arrived on scene with his partner, K9 Sparta, to track Johnson. K9 Sparta and Cpl. Mills located Johnson standing in a nearby canal trying to hide behind a tree. Johnson refused to comply with commands from Cpl. Mills to lay down on the ground. Johnson then went for a backpack that he had nearby, at which time Cpl. Mills released K9 Sparta to apprehend Johnson.

K9 Sparta, pictured during recent drug detector training.

K9 Sparta apprehended Matthew Johnson on the right arm, at which time he dragged K9 Sparta by the head into the water and started to pushing him underwater. K9 Sparta let go of Johnson during this fight and Cpl. Mills was able to pull him back to shore as Johnson swam across the canal and continued to flee deputies.

Matthew Johnson was not located, and is now wanted by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office on the following charges:

  • Retail Theft
  • Resisting an Officer without Violence
  • Offenses Against a Police Dog

If you have information on the whereabouts of Matthew Johnson, please contact the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. You can also contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). Tips to Crime Stoppers are anonymous and eligible for a cash reward if the information leads to an arrest. 


Katie Heck
Public Information Officer
Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office

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