Zephyrhills ex-con nabbed using high-tech camera on chopper

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Ex-con John Barfield didn’t want to go back to prison. A man with a lengthy criminal record, Barfield tried to hide from Pasco County deputies.

The agency’s high-tech “eye in the sky” pinpointed his location and guided K-9 units in to make the arrest.

Deputy Pilot Dave Calianno, Pasco Sheriff’s Office.

Barfield is a “frequent flyer” in law enforcement circles. He has dozens of arrests on his criminal record and convictions for everything from grand theft to running from cops.

After refusing to pull over for a traffic stop in Zephyrhills, Pasco deputies said Barfield drove down a dirt road, bailed out of his car and hid.

Radio transmissions captured chopper pilots alerting ground units where to go.

”Stand by. We’ve got one in the field. We’re trying to figure out who the closest unit is to him.”

Flying in a Vietnam-era chopper and manning an infrared camera, Deputy Pilot Dave Calianno spotted Barfield right away.

“This gentleman didn’t take much care or pride in trying to hide. He was fairly easy to find. He was the hottest thing in the field,” said Deputy Calianno.

That’s what the camera looks for, heat. It’s called a “FLIR.” The Pasco Sheriff’s Office is borrowing it for test runs.

“The image is crystal clear and very easy and very defined. Our other FLIR works perfectly well, but this one is better technology,” said Deputy Calianno.

“Keep walking to the west, straight due west and you’re gonna walk right into the guy,” Calianno relayed to the K-9 handlers.

As another deputy flew the chopper, Calianno directed them to Barfield.

“Okay, K-9. Keep walking to the west. You’re gonna walk into him in about 20 yards,” said Calianno over the radio.

John Barfield

“I love it when they think they can hide and we can still see ’em. It just makes my day. It’s a lot of fun and we like finding the bad guy. It makes my job a challenge, but we all enjoy doing it,” he said.

“It’s slightly to your left. Slightly to your left,” he relayed on the radio.

Barfield kept still, but even in pitch-darkness, the camera could spot him.

“Ten yards to go on other side of that culvert. He’s laying right there,” Calianno said over the radio.

The camera saw Barfield like it was mid-day.

“Turn left. Turn left, turn left,” the radios squawked.

“If they want to run, we’ll be happy to come find ’em,” said Deputy Calianno.

Barfield is facing a new set of charges, including grand theft, driving with a suspended or revoked license and fleeing and eluding.

He also has numerous warrants for his arrest.




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