PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – A man trying to help out a person he thought was in need faced down the barrel of a gun during a carjacking, Plant City police said.
The incident reportedly occurred in the parking lot of the Tire Shop of Plant City on N. Wheeler Street.
“I was surprised and worried that it might be one of our customers,” said Sarah Johns, Tire Shop’s owner.
Johns has observed escalating bad behavior around her business, she said.
“We have a high homeless population, which we try to love on those people as much as we can. A lot of time in that same situation there’s a lot of drug use and we see a lot of craziness, fights, people stealing,” Johns said.
On Monday morning, according to police, Aaron Chasteen, 26, pointed a gun at a man who was offering to give him money in the tire shop parking lot during non-business hours.
The man thought Chasteen might have been homeless.
“The suspect struck the victim twice, I believe, in the jaw with the handgun he was brandishing and forced him out of the vehicle,” said Capt. Alfred Van Duyne with Plant City police.
Chasteen drove off in the Mercedes, according to police.
“We don’t want to stymy anyone’s desire to help but as this incident illustrated, stopping and seemingly going to give somebody a dollar, or five dollars out the window, turned into an armed carjacking,” Van Duyne said.
The victim was left without a car or a phone.
He called 911 after walking home.
Police took Chasteen into custody after a 10-15 minute long police chase through Plant City and on I-4.
“He did make a statement that part of the reason why he ran was because of some charges, I believe, he’s on probation on,” Van Duyne said.
Officials said homelessness is on the rise in Plant City.
“It’s difficult for us to manage because one of the things that we don’t have at the moment is like a homeless shelter,” said Capt. Van Duyne.
The ordeal has Jones considering buying a gun.
“I feel like we need to keep ourselves safe,” she said. “I’ve never worried about it before because our people are amazing but seeing something like that happen as close to home as it did is scary.”