'Virtual Backup' used to bring alleged rifle-swinging sex offender into custody

A Florida man was arrested in Bunnell on Thursday, accused of swinging a rifle in public and firing a gunshot. 

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area of Mahogany Boulevard after several 911 callers reported a man swinging a rifle and stumbling on the road. Deputies arrived to find Manuel Almeida, 72, still carrying the weapon.

FCSO said he fired a shot into the air while a deputy was engaged with him. He was later brought into custody and the gun was recovered.

The event was caught on a body camera and live-streamed back to the Real Time Crime Center (RTCC), where employees assisted in the pursuit. The department refers to the RTCC as a virtual backup. They have the ability to tap into the body cameras and dash cameras of all deputies to provide help when needed.

"Any agency that’s not doing this needs to get modernized and start doing this," Sheriff Rick Staly said. He said the technology adds an extra layer of protection and communication for not only the deputies but the community as well.

Almeida was charged with possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, possession of ammo as a convicted felon, discharging a firearm in public, openly carrying a firearm, and resisting arrest without violence. He was previously arrested and convicted of lewd assault/sexual battery of a victim under 16 and burglary of an occupied conveyance in 1997. 

No injuries were reported.