Articles by Lindsey Darby


Firefighters rush to a home in Mossy Head after a neighbor reported seeing smoke and flames coming from a nearby residence.   At 10:37 p.m. on Saturday, September 2, 2023, Walton County Fire Rescue, DeFuniak Springs Fire Department, Liberty Volunteer Fire Department, Argyle Volunteer Fire Department, and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a home on Laird Road following a 911 call from a resident stating they heard explosions and could see flames coming from a neighboring mobile home. The caller also said both residents of the home made it out of the house safely, but they believed some of their neighbors’ pets were still inside the home.   Firefighters arrived on scene six minutes later and found flames coming from the back of a single-wide mobile home. Walton County Fire Rescue crews immediately made entry into the residence and began battling the blaze.   Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies shut down Laird Road while firefighters worked to extinguish the flames. With help from assisting fire departments, Walton County Fire Rescue crews put out the fire just in thirty minutes.   Several pets made it out of the residence safely, but, unfortunately, one cat and dog were later found deceased inside the house.   The fire was caused by an electrical issue inside the mobile home. American Red Cross was contacted to assist the residents of the damaged home. Read More


NOTICE OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING NEGOTIATIONS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC a Collective bargaining negotiation meeting IS scheduled to be held on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. (CST). The meeting will be held at the Walton County Sheriff’s Office north administration building in DeFuniak Springs. The purpose of these meetings is collective bargaining between the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and the Professional Firefighters of Walton County, Local 4413, International Association of Fire Fighters. Meetings will be held in the cypress room at 752 Triple G Road, DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433. The Walton County Sheriff adheres to the Americans with Disabilities Act and will make reasonable modifications for access to these meetings upon request. Requests may be made to the Human Resources Manager at 850-892-8111 x.3215 at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. Read More


A 37-year-old Freeport man has been arrested for sexual battery following an investigation by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. In June, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Bureau began an investigation into allegations against Joshua Scott Brase. During an interview, a female victim disclosed that Brase had sexually abused her when she was nine years old. The victim also said Brase told her not to tell anyone or “He would come back for her.” “Speaking out against any type of abuse can be a difficult thing to do.” says Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “Because of this young lady’s bravery, this sick individual is off the street and unable to harm any more children.” On August 4, 2023, Joshua Scott Brase was located at a home in Freeport and taken into custody by Walton County Sheriff’s Office investigators and members of the U.S. Marshals Florida Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force. He is charged with felony sexual battery on a child under the age of twelve and is currently being held in the Walton County Jail on a $500,000 bond. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public that the identities of victims are not public record, and we encourage anyone with information to call (850) 892-8111. Read More


A Fort Walton Beach man has been arrested for multiple vehicle burglaries after being spotted in the area days later. On Wednesday, July 4, 2023, Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the Mack Bayou area following several reports of vehicle burglaries that took place overnight. The suspect, seen on security cameras wearing a gray sweatshirt and dark pants, entered several unlocked vehicles, stealing a firearm and over $600 cash. Surveillance cameras also captured a black sedan, believed to be a 2019 two-door Chevrolet Camaro, traveling in the area around the time of the burglaries. Shortly after 3:00 AM on Monday, July 10, 2023, Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Buck Road in Santa Rosa Beach in reference to a suspicious vehicle matching the description of the vehicle from July 4th. The caller stated a man got out of the vehicle, locked it, and walked into the Driftwood Estates neighborhood. A short time later, deputies spotted the suspect, Ke’ame Deshae Stoudmire, 29, of Fort Walton Beach coming out of the Driftwood Estates neighborhood riding a bicycle. Upon seeing deputies, Stoudmire fled but was later found hiding near a dock on Anchor Lane. Stoudmire was wearing the same clothing he wore during the vehicle burglaries on July 4th. Stoudmire was arrested and charged with loitering and prowling, obstruction without violence, grand theft of a firearm, possession of a weapon or ammo by a convicted felon, two counts of petit theft, and five counts of vehicle burglary. The Walton County Sheriff’s... Read More


Firefighters quickly extinguish flames engulfing a mobile home in the middle of the night. At 2:03 AM on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, Walton County Fire Rescue, Liberty Volunteer Fire District, Argyle Volunteer Fire Department, and Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to a home on New Harmony Loop, north of DeFuniak Springs, following a 911 call reporting a structure fire. The caller stated they could see flames coming from a mobile home, and it was unknown if anyone was inside. First responders arrived to find a double-wide mobile home fully engulfed in flames. Walton County Fire Rescue conducted an initial search for anyone who may have been inside the house. Fortunately, no one was found. Firefighters were able to quickly knock down the flames, keeping them from spreading to other nearby homes. While on scene, Walton County Fire Rescue was informed the previous tenant had recently moved out of the home, leaving the residence vacant. The State Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene and is investigating the cause of the fire. Read More


Walton County Fire Rescue, the primary provider of Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the largest fire suppression agency north of the Choctawhatchee Bay in Walton County, is proud to announce Chief Austin Pugh as the department’s new fire chief. Chief Pugh, 42, is a career public safety professional, serving the Florida panhandle for over 20 years. He began his career as an EMT with Holmes County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in 2001 before accepting a position with Walton County EMS in November that same year. Chief Pugh played an integral role in the creation of Walton County Fire Rescue, which was officially established in 2005, serving in numerous positions. Pugh worked as a firefighter-paramedic for several years before promoting through the ranks as a lieutenant, battalion chief, training chief, and assistant chief of operations. During his tenure, Chief Pugh governed in several leadership positions within the Local 4413 Union, ultimately acting as union president from 2013 to 2015. While in various positions in the agency, he has served on a variety of committees dealing with labor management, policy and procedures, and capital improvement. He also assisted in the development of the first comprehensive training plan for Walton County Fire Rescue. An alumnus of the National Fire Academy, Pugh holds a degree in fire administration as well as several state certifications. He has also worked as an adjunct instructor for Northwest State Florida’s fire academy. “I am proud to announce Chief Austin Pugh as Walton County... Read More


Firefighters knock down mobile home fire in the middle of the night, saving nearby homes. At 2:13 AM this morning, Walton County Fire Rescue, North Bay Fire Control District, and Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Florida responded to a home on Crestview Road in Villa Tasso following a 911 call reporting a structure fire. The caller stated they heard popping sounds and looked outside to see flames coming from a nearby home. It was unknown if anyone was inside the house. Firefighters and deputies arrived moments later to find a single-wide mobile home fully engulfed in flames. WCSO deputies began evacuating nearby homes and Walton County Fire Rescue conducted an initial search for anyone who may still be inside the house. Fortunately, no one was found. North Bay Fire District arrived shortly after and began assisting Walton County Fire Rescue in battling the blaze. Firefighters has the fire under control in about thirty minutes and were able to keep the flames from damaging nearby homes. After the fire was knocked down, a secondary search was conducted inside the damaged home. Unfortunately, during this search, a dog was found deceased in the home. The cause of the fire is unknown but is not believed to be suspicious in nature. Walton County Fire Rescue would like to thank North Bay Fire District for their assistance. Read More


A Walton High School student has been arrested after making a bomb threat. Shortly after 9:00 a.m. on May 25th, Walton County Sheriff’s Office school resource deputies and Walton High School administration were made aware of a student claiming to have a bomb inside the school. Thyra Kimbrell, 16, stated she had a pipe bomb in her book bag in front of the class. When questioned by teachers, Kimbrell again uttered “I have a pipe bomb in my book bag.” The school resource deputy and administration staff were made aware and immediately removed the students from the classroom. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office school resource deputy searched the student’s backpack and classroom, but nothing was found. Out of precaution, Walton County High School students were quickly evacuated from the building. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and Bay County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squads responded and conducted a thorough search of the campus before giving the all-clear. During an interview with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Kimbrell said she was “saying something from a video game.” Kimbrell was arrested and charged with false reporting of a bomb, a second-degree felony. She was booked into the Walton County Jail and then transported to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Crestview. “Threats like these are not a joke and will always be taken seriously,” says Sheriff Adkinson. “This is the second school threat that has led to a juvenile’s arrest in less than a week. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure... Read More


In just twenty minutes, Walton County Fire Rescue knocked down flames that broke out in a Freeport home Monday night. Shortly after 9:00 PM on April 17, 2023, Walton County Fire Rescue and Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a home on April Court following a 911 call reporting a structure fire. Firefighters arrived on scene to find flames coming from the left side of a single wide mobile home. Walton County Fire Rescue crews had the fire under control within just ten minutes of their arrival. Within twenty minutes, firefighters had the fire completely extinguished. Fortunately, all residents made it out of the home safely. “Extinguishing a fire in twenty minutes is impressive,” says Sheriff Adkinson. “Extinguishing a fire in a mobile home, which are known for burning more quickly, is monumental. Their quick action stopped the spread of the fire, allowing them to salvage some of the homeowner’s personal belongings.” The fire is believed to be accidental in nature. The American Red Cross was contacted to assist the owner of the damaged home. Read More


Walton County Animal Control responded to an elderly man’s home who was having trouble keeping his livestock contained. Instead of citing him, they decide to lend a helping hand. Over the last few months, animal control officers have received complaints regarding goats roaming into neighbors’ yards on Elmwood Road in Mossy Head. Animal Control Officer Cary Miller responded to the area and soon formed a friendship with the goat’s owner. An elderly veteran who had served twenty years in the United States Army. “I explained the situation and that neighbors were complaining about his goats getting out of the fence,” says Miller. “He was always incredibly apologetic. Told me he was doing his best to keep them contained, but he had health issues that limited his ability to do manual work.” After speaking with the resident for a while, ACO Miller learned the owner had lost his home in a fire in November of 2022, and he was just now getting back on his feet. “I noticed his animals were well taken care of, but I did give him the option to surrender the animals to the shelter if they were too much for him to continue care for considering all the hardships he’d been through recently,” says Miller. “He didn’t want to give them up, and I could tell he cared for his animals. So, I knew we had to help.” Animal Control Officers Cary Miller, CJ Eastling, and Animal Control Supervisor Joe Everett used their own money to... Read More