Robot dog helps Fla. SWAT officers capture barricaded kidnapping suspect

The encounter began when the suspect took a 3-year-old boy and fled in a pickup truck, leading to a hourslong standoff


By Michaela Mulligan
Tampa Bay Times

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.  — A man fled a domestic dispute with a 3-year-old late Monday, leading to an hours-long standoff with the St. Petersburg Police Department under an Interstate 275 overpass.

Matthew Perkins, 32, is facing numerous charges after he crashed underneath the I-275 overpass on Gandy Boulevard and barricaded himself with a 3-year-old child. The standoff ended after four hours with Perkins’ arrest and no injuries, according to a St. Petersburg police news release.

The situation began with a domestic dispute at a home in the 1900 block of Norfolk Street N when Perkins took a 3-year-old boy and fled in a pickup truck, St. Petersburg Police said in the news release. Using a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, police located Perkins on Gandy Boulevard.

Perkins then crashed the truck and became lodged under the Interstate 275 overpass on Gandy, police said. For four hours, Perkins would not negotiate, police said. The SWAT team deployed SPOT, a robotic dog, in an attempt to reach Perkins.

About 4:30 a.m. police grew concerned about the child’s condition and moved in to get the child and Perkins, police said.

Police rescued the child and took Perkins into custody without any injuries, police said.

Perkins faces a number of charges, police said, including false imprisonment, aggravated child abuse and aggravated assault. Perkins did not show up in Pinellas County jail records as of 7 a.m.

Police did not say what relationship the child and Perkins had with one another.

All lanes of Gandy were closed for several hours during the standoff. One lane of traffic remains partially blocked on eastbound Gandy Boulevard, police said around 6 a.m.

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