Updated: Sep 16, 2023
On the night of September 11, 2023, a man was arrested for stealing an excavator and driving it into the Storage Depot of Gainesville(2700 sw 40th Blvd), multiple power poles, and through the wall of a Walmart (2900 sw 42nd Street), accumulating around 2 million in property damage.
According to the arrest report, Jesse Smith entered a yellow Komatsu excavator, valued at $350,000, at a construction site on Southwest 47th Street. He drove the machine into the Southside of the Walmart and then allegedly entered the store with a machete. Before being confronted by law enforcement the man was reported to have dropped the machete. He allegedly resisted arrest when officers tried to apprehend him.
Smith has been charged with grand theft, property damage, resisting an officer, and trespassing.
Update: On Sep 14, 2023, GPD released a video update of the incident. According to the press release, Walmart employees found Smith's machete after he tried to hide it. The video shows GPD officers entering the Walmart with assault rifles and apprehending Smith.
The update also gives further detail on Smith's joyride. After stealing the excavator, Smith drove through four buildings at the Storage Depot of Gainesville, reportedly doing donuts in order to destroy as many buildings as possible. Smith then pressed on, destroying fences and leaving live wires on the ground after taking out power poles. Smith then reached the Walmart, where he struck the loading dock and a Gru meter before turning the corner and attempting to knock a wall down. Nobody was injured during this incident.
A link to the full video can be found here.