Monday, January 28, 2008

Bondsman Takes in Pantless Felon

Try to escape from bail bondsman Rico Reed and it could cost you your pants.

That's exactly what happened to Eric Lee Andrews in front of a crowd of people in downtown Winter Haven on Thursday evening. And as it turns out, Andrews isn't a boxer or briefs man - witnesses said he's a no underwear man.

Reed, a veteran bondsman, was bloodied in the mayhem that wrecked three cars about 5:20 p.m. Thursday.

Reed said he planned to take Andrews to jail on felony warrants, although he wasn't sure for what, and for jumping bail.

Acting on a tip, Reed said he found Andrews, 44, inside a building at 280 W. Central Ave. That's where the bedlam began.

Andrews, a big guy at 6 feet, 200 pounds, jumped through a window inside the building, but Reed said he caught him, handcuffed him behind his back, took him outside to his company's 2006 Dodge Durango, and secured him in a seat belt in the backseat of the truck.

He said he went around the vehicle to make sure the doors were locked and, that quick, Andrews slid the cuffs under his feet, undid the belt and jumped into the driver's seat. The keys were in the ignition.

The driver's window was down, so Reed tried to reach in to grab the keys.

"He punched the gas," Reed said. Reed ended up on the street with a gash on his head, which was later treated by paramedics.

Andrews then hit two cars, one of which had to be towed, according to reports. And then, just across the street from where he started the futile escape, Andrews crashed head-on into a tree, police said, ruining the front end of the truck. He then tried to run, police said.

By this point, Reed was not a happy bondsman. His head was bloody and his truck had been trashed. So Reed tackled the fleeing Andrews and, in the process, Andrews lost his pants.

When asked if the pants being separated from Andrews was deliberate, Reed grinned. "No," he said. "I just grabbed onto whatever I could." He held Andrews down until police quickly arrived.

"It was bizarre," said Kendall Reasoner, 21, who had a front-row seat, on a street-side bench.

"At first I was scared," she said. "But then you see this naked guy getting the crap beat out of him. In a strange way, it was kind of funny."

Winter Haven police Thursday night said Andrews is being charged with grand theft auto, driving with a suspended license, reckless driving and four outstanding felony warrants.

His ride to the Polk County Jail in a city police car was expected to go a little more according to plan.

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