MULBERRY – Two men are facing attempted murder charges after the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said they stole a rifle from a detective with that law enforcement agency, then fired it at the people they were attempting to rob. One of the men now under arrest is the son of that Polk County Sheriff’s detective.
Gabriel San Miguel Gallego-Bias of Lakeland is the 18-year-old son of Detective Consuelo Gallegos-Bias, a member of the agency since 2003. He and Robert Louis Preston, 20, of Lakeland were both charged with attempted murder, attempted armed burglary and grand theft of a firearm.
The robberies, detectives said, occurred at two different occupied homes in Mulberry, and Gallego-Bias’s mother played a key role in linking her son to this crime, because it appears the son stole, then used, his mother’s agency-issued gun in the commission of this crime.
The sheriff’s office said it happened late at night on Tuesday, March 6, when deputies got calls from homes on SW Third Terrace and SW Third Street in Mulberry, about shots that had been fired at both homes.
When deputies got to the house at Third Terrace, they found bullet holes on the front porch, in a neighbor’s vehicle, and spent .223 shell casings on the ground. A witness who was visiting that house told deputies that a Hispanic man had walked over to him, raised a rifle at him and fire it. The witness wasn’t injured.
He said the armed man then fled the scene with another man.
At the Third Street home, deputies found bullet holes in the door frame of the front door, and in the tire of a vehicle parked there. A neighbor told deputies that two men, described as either white or Hispanic, walked toward the victim’s house and car, and one of the men was armed with a rifle. A second witness reported seeing a red car that was parked at the nearby Dollar General store, which sped off after the shots were fired.
Carrie Eleazer, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, noted that Gabrielle Gallegos-Bias and Preston were identified as suspects after Detective Consuelo Gallegos-Bias “performed an inventory of her agency-issued equipment and found that her agency-issued Olympic Arms .223 rifle and ammunition was missing from the locked trunk of her agency-issued vehicle.”
The keys to her trunk and the chain, and the padlock used to secure the rifle, were also missing.
“With Detective Gallegos-Bias’ help, deputies were able to quickly locate her son and Preston and take them into custody without incident on March 7,” Eleazer noted in her report on the arrests.
The two men were booked into the Polk County Jail, while the investigation turned up Detective Gallegos-Bias’ stolen keys, rifle, and remaining ammunition.
Gabrielle Gallegos-Bias is being charged with an unrelated Polk County warrant for battery, as well as two counts of attempted murder, attempted armed burglary of a conveyance, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, grand theft of a firearm, and armed burglary conveyance.
Preston is being charged with two counts of attempted murder, grand theft of a firearm, attempted armed burglary of a conveyance, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Both suspects have past criminal records, the sheriff’s office noted.
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