HAINES CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — Haines City police arrested a man who was involved in a wreck Saturday afternoon that left two officers and two civilians hospitalized.
The Haines City Police Department said the situation began when Robert Lee Smith III, 19, pointed a rifle at Officers Jose Ramirez and Gedrick Vargas while they conducted a traffic stop at around 5:21 p.m.
After pointing the rifle at the officers, Smith drove off in a black vehicle with a woman, leading the officers on a chase, police said.
However, the officers’ patrol car ended being hit by a civilian vehicle at the intersection of East Johnson Avenue and Power Line Road. Both officers and the two civilians inside the other vehicle were hospitalized while the suspect’s vehicle fled the scene, according to police.
The department said they found Smith at his father’s home in Poinciana where he was arrested on two charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
“We are thankful that our officers, and the two innocent civilians, who were injured today by the actions of the suspect are in stable condition, and expected to recover from their injuries,” Haines City Police Chief Greg Goreck said. “I am very grateful for the rapid response from our department and surrounding law enforcement agencies. This incident was brought to a quick and successful resolution because of good police work by all involved. Persistence and teamwork helped take a dangerous criminal off the street in just a few hours.”
The Haines City Police Department said the two citizens involved in the crash sustained minor injuries and were released from the hospital Sunday morning. Officer Vargas was also released from the hospital after suffering from a dislocated shoulder and broken ribs.
Police said Officer Ramirez is still in intensive care with a brain bleed, a broken arm and facial injuries. He is in critical, but stable condition after coming out of surgery Sunday morning.