Stolen-guns case leads to brief standoff

dgoodhue@keysreporter.comApril 2, 2014 

Matthew Berry, David Gilliland and David Pothier each faces a laundry list of felonies.

SHERIFF'S OFFICE

A case of stolen weapons, a burning pickup truck and the suicide of a pregnant woman led to a brief but tense standoff in south Miami-Dade County last week.

In the end, three Upper Keys men were arrested on charges ranging from grand theft to cocaine possession.

Mathew Berry, 23, and David Pothier, 25, are accused of burglarizing two homes -- one in Key Largo, one in Tavernier -- and taking a total of four guns, a pickup truck and a laptop computer. David Lee Gilliland, 26, is accused of fleeing from police and also faces a drug possession charge.

Here's what Monroe County Sheriff's Office detectives say happened, according to their reports:

The morning of March 26, a Key Largo resident reported that his 2006 Ford F-150 pickup was missing from his driveway and an AR-15 assault rifle, a Glock handgun and a pellet gun were missing from inside his Meridian Avenue home. 

Turns out the pickup truck was found the day before on fire in Florida City.

Sheriff's Office detectives Ian Barnett and Robert Dosh found out Berry may be involved. Berry knew the victim and discovered by texting him that he would not be at home on March 25.

On March 27, another man reported to police that his shotgun and laptop were stolen from his house on Azalea Street in Tavernier. That man told Barnett and Dosh that Berry and Pothier visited him the night of March 25 asking if he wanted to buy an AR-15, a Glock and a pellet gun. 

The man declined -- and discovered the next day that his house was burglarized.

The detectives already knew Berry, who has a substantial criminal record, ranging from grand theft to underage drinking. During their investigation, they spoke with Berry over the phone but he declined to meet with them.

Barnett and Dosh reported that Berry was upset and "excessively using drugs and alcohol" to deal with the pain of the loss of his pregnant girlfriend, who recently killed herself in Homestead.

Concerned about Berry, the detectives issued an alert to be on the lookout for his vehicle. The alert also warned that Berry was possibly armed, depressed and under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In the meantime, Barnett and Dosh were also in contact with Berry's father and brother.

Homestead police found Berry's Chevy 2500 pickup truck at 10 a.m. March 27 in front of a house in that city. Believing he was heavily armed and "unstable," Miami-Dade Police surrounded the house.

Barnett, Dosh and Keys Detective Sgt. Mark Coleman were also there. Dosh got in contact with Berry by phone. After saying he did not know what he was going to do, Berry surrendered, unarmed, at noon.

Detectives were told Gilliland had the guns in the trunk of his car. Deputies and detectives followed Gilliland's white Mustang. Around 2:30 March 27, Gilliland recognized the tail and made a quick U-turn at mile marker 89. Gilliland lost control of his car after fleeing for less than a mile. He jumped out and ran away but deputies caught him.

But the guns were not in the trunk; they were at Pothier's house. He is facing charges of being a principle to armed burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property. He was released on bond Saturday. The bond amount is not clear.

Berry is in the Miami-Dade County jail on charges of armed burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property; there is no bond. Gilliland faces charges of felony fleeing and eluding, driving with a suspended driver's license and cocaine possession. He was released Friday on $45,000 bond.

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