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Police: St. Pete fugitive used baby as shield before arrest


Published:   |   Updated: September 18, 2013 at 08:11 AM

A 26-year-old fugitive was arrested by authorities Tuesday morning after he used an infant as a shield from authorities preparing to storm his house to capture him, St. Petersburg police said.

Matthew Wehunt, of 1301 79th Ave. N., was wanted by authorities on auto-theft warrants, police said.

Police, U.S. Marshals and other authorities went to Wehunt’s home about 7 a.m. after developing information he was there, police said.

Detectives then saw three women leaving the residence in a vehicle, which was then stopped by police. The women denied that Wehunt or their children were inside, authorities said.

The property was surrounded and secured, police said. Authorities went to each door and window and announced they were there, knocked and had a canine bark, but there was with no response from inside.

After more than an hour, blinds in the residence were seen moving, police said. Authorities said they saw Wehunt shove a 3-month-old boy into the Venetian blinds near the front door, where officers were preparing to enter.

Wehunt put the child between the entry team and himself, almost as if shielding himself from the team, police said.

Officers entered the house and took Wehunt into custody, police said.

Three other children, all younger than 4, were hidden inside a small, locked bathroom of the residence, police said.

Wehunt faces four counts of child abuse, two counts of auto theft and multiple charges of failing to appear, according to Pinellas County Jail records. He was being held on bail of $172,039.

Ashley Nicole Dixon, 25, Samantha Daniel Dixon, 24, and April Star Dominguez, 23, who also live at the home, were charged with obstruction and child abuse, police said.

Authorities put the children in custody of family members, police said.

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