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BONIFAY, Florida - A Holmes County deputy is recovering after being wounded in the line of duty in pursuit of a burglary suspect late Friday night.
Holmes County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy, Maj. Harry Hamilton, said Saturday morning that Sgt. Michael Raley was patrolling in west Holmes County in response to a recent burglary. Raley spotted a pickup truck with a lawnmower in back and pulled the driver over.
The driver's license identified the driver as Matthew Olin Bryan, 35, of Defuniak Springs. Bryan took off and Raley followed in pursuit. During the chase Bryan fired a 12-gauge shotgun, hitting Raley's HCSO pickup in the hood and windshield. Raley was also struck in the head with several rounds of buckshot. Hamilton said Raley managed to return fire.
Raley's wounds were not life threatening, as,H Hamilton said, and the deputy was taken to Doctors Memorial Hospital in Bonifay and treated and released.
Walton County deputies located Bryan retuning to his residence west of Defuniak Springs and attempted a traffic stop. Bryan grabbed his shotgun and fled on foot into a wooded area.
"A manhunt began with the assistance of Holmes and Walton County Department of Corrections tracking teams," Hamilton said, "as well as officers from the Florida Highway Patrol and Walton County Sheriff's Office. Bryan was located in a nearby residence and was arrested without incident, Hamilton said.
Hamilton said Bryan confessed to the crimes, and is in custody in Walton County Jail awaiting transfer to Holmes County. Bryan faces felony charges of attempted murder, felon in possession of a firearm and fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer. Hamilton said Bryan has an extensive criminal record, including drug-related crimes. Charges are pending in Walton County.
"I am of course very thankful that Sgt. Raley wasn't seriously hurt or killed," said Holmes County Sheriff Dennis Lee. "I'm also very impressed with Sgt. Raley for remaining calm and collected throughout this incident." Lee thanked Walton County Sheriff Ralph Johnson and all other agencies that helped locate what he called, "a dangerous suspect."
 
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