CALLAHAN, Fla. – Two days after a fugitive accused of shooting and killing a Nassau County deputy was taken into custody at the Kirsten Higginbotham Sports Complex off Ball Park Road, those in charge of the facilities got their first chance to survey the damage he left behind.
Callahan Sports Club Board members told News4Jax they found signs of forced entry and food scattered on the floor. They said it appears Patrick McDowell ransacked the concession stand before he was taken into custody Tuesday.
According to Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, law enforcement officers surrounded the concession stand and bathroom area at the complex Tuesday and McDowell eventually came out of the bathroom building and surrendered. Leeper said the handcuffs that were put on McDowell belonged to Deputy Joshua Moyers, who died of his injuries Sunday.
The board members asked News4Jax not to film inside the concession stand building, but they told us McDowell stole jerseys and took “a large amount” of money from the register. And he definitely didn’t leave hungry.
“You can tell that he was in there for quite a while. All of our food he had gone through -- drinks. Apparently, he likes chocolate milk and coffee because all of that was gone,” Callahan Soccer Club Board member Ryan Kerley said. “He was cooking stuff up in there, pork, hot dogs and you can tell he’s definitely been in there for a while.”
Kerley said the club’s iPad had also been used.
He said the club canceled its coaches vs. coaches game over the weekend because of the ongoing manhunt for McDowell.
“All of our jerseys are gone. So they were for the coaches game, and it was actually what he was wearing when he was arrested, and he used to wrap around his leg when he was shot so all those jerseys are gone,” Kerley said.
McDowell is accused of shooting Moyers twice during a traffic stop early Friday. During the manhunt, McDowell also wounded a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9, investigators said.
According to Leeper, when McDowell fired at the K-9 in the woods, deputies returned fire and later learned they had wounded McDowell, which is why he used Facebook to reach out to a woman, identified as Breiana Tole, 27, to ask for help.
According to Tole’s arrest report, McDowell arranged to meet her at the sports complex but when she drove toward the area to pick him up, law enforcement stopped her, and she was arrested on a charge of felony accessory after the fact. She is being held on a $1 million bond.
McDowell, who is recovering from injuries at UF Health Jacksonville, was charged with one count of murder and one count of aggravated battery on a police dog.
The restroom building deputies say McDowell crawled out of when he finally surrendered Tuesday was also a mess. Sunflower seeds that appeared to have been taken from the concession stand were scattered on the floor, along with trash.
The county said it’s going to sanitize the buildings Thursday to make sure they’re ready for the public again. Representatives from the club told News4Jax they are ready to clean up the mess and get back to normal.
Shawn Hardemon, who is the Head of Grounds at the sports complex, said he’s relieved McDowell is in custody.
“We’ve got a lot of kids that are wanting to practice, so we’ve got to reschedule all our practices and we’ve got a lot of work to do out here,” Hardemon said.
Kerley said the Callahan Soccer Club plans to honor Moyers in the future.
“We’re strong and we’re going to pull together that not only the club moves forward but also that Deputy Moyers’ legacy and name will not be forgotten,” Kerley said.
One thing they’re already planning: Renaming the coaches vs. coaches game to the Moyers’ Warriors game.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers continued searching for evidence Wednesday in the area around the complex, and Leeper announced Thursday that a gun was found. It’s being tested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to see if it was the one involved in Moyers’ shooting.
It’s unclear when McDowell will be released from the hospital and appear in court.