A spokesman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Brian Bruchey, said that 36-year-old Ernest McKnight III told detectives he didn't want his son to "be soft" so he brought him along while he committed a series of crimes to "toughen him up." The child was with McKnight while he allegedly burglarized three unoccupied dwellings, stole a car, and took a package off a porch.
"Taking a child out with you while you're committing felonies is not the proper way to create a positive influence," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "I’m quite confident that there is not a child psychologist out there who would agree with this guy’s idea of proper activity for a child."
Police spotted McKnight on Thursday in a red Hyundai that was taken from a road surveyor. He then took the police on a high-speed chase before he was apprehended. Police say that they clocked McKnight going 120 mph before they were able to catch him. After they corralled McKnight, authorities discovered a child in the vehicle.
McKnight is currently being held on a "wide variety of crimes" including Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon, Domestic Violence, Loitering/Prowling, Narcotics, Resisting, Theft, and more. Per Bruchey, the boy has since been reunited with his family.