Shootout between motorcyclists on I-4 leaves woman in critical condition, Sheriff Judd says

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A woman is in extremely critical condition after deputies say she was shot while riding on the back of a motorcycle early Friday morning on Interstate 4 in Polk County.

According to Sheriff Grady Judd, just after midnight 38-year-old Ronald Donovan, a member of the Sin City Deciples Motorcycle Club, was driving eastbound on I-4. Donovan, his passenger, a 33-year-old woman, and two other motorcyclists were driving toward the Orlando area.

Judd said that’s when two members of the Thug Riders Motorcycle Club passed by them, which didn’t sit well with Donovan.

“There was some skirmishing and some driving about 100 miles per hour,” the sheriff said.

He said Donovan then shot and hit one of the Thug Riders motorcyclists, a 36-year-old man, who fired back toward Donovan.

According to Judd, the bullet struck Donovan’s passenger in the head just above the ear, causing her to fall off of the motorcycle. Medical experts say she is not expected to survive.

“They took an 1888 old western shootout and brought it to 2021 last night,” Judd said. “You had a rush of testosterone and a rush of idiocy and it ended up with… near death.”

The sheriff said the injured Thug Riders motorcyclist drove to Champions Gate and stopped at Papa John’s to call 911. At the same time, other 911 calls came into the Polk County Sheriff’s Office regarding the shooting on the interstate.

When deputies arrived at the scene, Judd said Donovan had two empty gun holsters, but no guns were found in the area. A motorcyclist was also seen fleeing from the area.

The sheriff also noted that when deputies tried to ask Donovan questions, he responded by saying “I know my rights” and invoked his Fifth Amendment right.

Ronald Donovan — Courtesy: Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Donovan was arrested on scene and has been charged with the following:

  • Attempted felony murder
  • Attempted first-degree murder
  • Resisting arrest
  • Battery on a law enforcement officer

According to Judd, at this time, the investigation shows that the Thug Riders victim was acting in self-defense when he returned fire.

A portion of I-4 was shut down for several hours as deputies and Florida Highway Patrol troopers searched for firearms and bullet casings over a half-mile area.

Since the shooting involved two separate “motorcycle gangs,” the sheriff gave the following warning to members of each side:

“Let me warn you, retaliation will get you all locked up in prison for a very long time and that’s a guarantee in Polk County,” he said. “Your stupidness has already gotten a 33-year-old beautiful young lady in a near-death situation and another man shot.”

Sheriff Judd he expects to provide more details on the case on Monday.

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