Citrus Deputy Mitch Cook is graduating from school resource officer to retired law enforcement officer

Citrus Deputy Mitch Cook is graduating from school resource officer to retired law enforcement officer

Deputy Mitch Cook is retiring from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) after completing a 30-year career in law enforcement. (CCSO photo on June 21, 2019)

Now that graduations are over, students have said their goodbyes and the hallways are empty, School Resource Deputy Mitch Cook is ready to retire.

Deputy Cook is retiring from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) after completing an outstanding 30-year career in law enforcement.

Deputy Cook started working for CCSO on August 3, 1989, as a Deputy Sheriff assigned to the Patrol Division. Throughout Deputy Cook’s career, he served the agency as a K9 Deputy, a detective, a bailiff, a corporal, a Field Training Officer and lastly, Deputy Cook ends his career as a School Resource Deputy at Citrus High School.

“We are grateful to Deputy Cook for his many years of service to the citizens of Citrus County,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “His continued devotion to mentoring the youth of our community through the School Resource Deputy program will be sincerely missed. We wish him a healthy and very happy retirement.”

During Deputy Cook’s career, he received numerous accolades for his integral roles in cases such as the 1998 arrest of counterfeiter Tom Fox and for his role as a courtroom bailiff during the emotional Jessica Lunsford murder trial of John Couey. Please join us in congratulating Deputy Cook on his dedicated career and wishing him a long, healthy, and happy retirement.

Sentencing date set for former CCSO employee

A former crime scene specialist appeared for a pre-sentencing hearing on Thursday before 5th Circuit Court Judge Ric Howard in a case involving the release of confidential information from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.

A former crime scene specialist appeared for a pre-sentencing hearing on Thursday before 5th Circuit Court Judge Ric Howard in a case involving the release of confidential information from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.

Former Crime Scrime Scene Specialist Ashley Pate will be in custody without bond until her sentencing hearing on April 23.

Jurors found Pate guilty on Wednesday of disclosing confidential law enforcement information.

“Ashley Pate’s actions were unethical and reckless,” Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. “She knowingly and intentionally divulged confidential information without concern for the safety of our Sheriff’s Office personnel. Serious injury, if not the death of one of our own, could have been the result of her criminal behavior,” Sheriff Prendergast said.

“Her lack of integrity compromised our criminal investigations. Ashley Pate will now have to face the consequences of her own actions.”

Man threatening to ‘shoot someone’ dies in hail of bullets after chase

A man who had allegedly threatened to shoot someone at a Hernando business died himself on Saturday following a chase by Citrus County deputies and a subsequent exchange of gunfire.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office shot and killed a man who had threatened to shoot someone at a Hernando business and then led deputies on a wild chase before crashing near that business. (CCSO photo on February 17, 2018)

A Hernando man who had allegedly threatened to shoot someone at a Hernando business died himself on Saturday following a chase by Citrus County deputies and a subsequent exchange of gunfire.

At approximately 5 p.m. deputies started looking for a Blue KIA Sedona after Citrus County Sheriff’s Office dispatch received a call stating 28-year-old Brian Batchelder from Hernando was making threats to shoot someone at the Xtreme games 3 store at the U.S. 41 / State Road 200 apex across from the Cumberland Farms gas station in Hernando.

Patrol units quickly found Batchelder speeding down U.S. 41 north toward the shop. Batchelder failed to stop his vehicle, the CCSO said. A pursuit ensued Northbound on State Road 200. Because of high speeds and traffic volume, the chase was canceled. Marion County Sheriff’s Office was also notified, the CCSO said.

A short time later, deputies found Batchelder speeding down Southbound on County Road 491 and then Southbound on U.S. 41 through Hernando, passing the Xtreme games 3 store, at which point he pointed a firearm at deputies, the Sheriff’s Office said. After multiple attempts to try and stop the vehicle, Batchelder ran the red light at the U.S. 41 and S.R. 200  apex traveling at a high rate of speed, directly toward CCSO deputies who put themselves between Batchelder and citizens.

He slammed his vehicle into a sheriff’s vehicle, which in turn, pushed the cruiser into three other parked cars, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The impact of the crash forced other vehicles into a CCSO deputy. That deputy sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and the deputy was taken to a nearby hospital.

The CCSO said that deputies were then forced to discharge their weapons toward Batchelder’s vehicle. Deputies were able to get Batchelder out of the vehicle, but he died a short time later.

“This is a very tragic turn of events, where a man lost his life. We are very thankful that our officers were not seriously injured and that the many citizens who were very close to this extremely dangerous situation did not suffer catastrophic injuries,” said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast.

“Again, we will count on FDLE to do a thorough investigation.”

FDLE will now take over the investigation. The deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave with pay per agency policy. We will not be releasing any more information regarding this case until FDLE is done with their investigation.

UPDATE ON SUNDAY, FEB. 18:

Below are the two names of the deputies who were put on paid administrative leave while the case is being investigated.

  • Deputy Ryne (no first name provided by the CCSO), who was hired on July 17, 2017;
  • Deputy Michael Anger, who was hired on Jan. 17, 2017.

 

Sheriff’s Office looking for missing/runaway

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is currently searching for Antonio Cutrona, a 17 year old white male runaway juvenile.

Antonio Cutrona

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is currently searching for Antonio Cutrona, a 17-year-old white male runaway juvenile.

Antonio is 5 feet 11 inches tall, and weighs 165 pounds. He has blond hair and blue eyes.

He was last seen wearing red sweat pants, a t-shirt, and a blue jacket. He was last seen in Homosassa, on Dec. 30, 2017, around noon. It is possible that Antonio may be in Hudson, in Pasco County Florida.

If you see Antonio, or know where he is, please contact Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and ask for Major Crimes @ 352-726-1121. If you wish to give information anonymously, and possibly be eligible for a reward, contact Citrus County Crime Stoppers @ 888-ANY- TIPS (269-8477) orwww.crimestopperscitrus.com .