36-year-old Ernest McKnight III of Lake Wales, Fl, was arrested on Thursday after going on a crime spree. An 8-year-old boy was with him during some of these crimes. He reportedly wanted to “Toughen him up.”
It started with McKnight stealing a Hyundai off of SR 60. Several days later, he was seen rummaging through a car on County Road 653. He then stole a package from a home. The victim told him to return it, but he replied with, “it’s mine now.”
Deputies tried to pull him over but he refused. Eventually, aviation units were able to find him.
When asked why he had a child with him, he said, “I was trying to toughen him up…I don’t want him to be soft.”
He was arrested and charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, grand theft motor vehicle, tampering with evidence, petit theft, and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He’s also facing traffic charges and a negligent child abuse charge from Lake Wales police.