POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies have arrested a suspect who attempted to carjack four vehicles in the Lake Alfred area and also caused several crashes.
A report came in around 7:45 a.m. Friday of a car crash at exit 38 on I-4, where the driver fled on foot.
During the first attempted carjacking, Sheriff Grady Judd said the suspect, later identified as 32-year-old Christopher Hendrix, ran up to a grey Chevy Colorado parked at the pumps of the Marathon gas station, located at 6000 State Road 557, and tried to get inside.
The female driver was pumping gas at the time and sprayed Hendrix with gas from the hose when she saw him trying to get into her car, Judd said.
Deputies say the suspect then jumped into another victim’s car, a burgundy Town & Country van, that was parked nearby. Sheriff Judd said the owner of the van was standing outside the Alfred Grocery & Gas store when he saw the suspect. The owner of the car, who has a concealed weapons permit holder, drew his gun and pointed it at the suspect, according to Judd.
“I turned around. I took off running toward my vehicle. I pulled my firearm out and I pointed it at the windshield and I screamed at him, get out of my vehicle now. He did immediately. And I disengaged,” said John Christie of Apopka.
Christie told 8 On Your Side during a telephone interview that he did not intend to shoot the man.
“I’d have to give a word of warning: be careful because all concealed carry holders are not as polite as I,” he said.
Hendrix ran off from the scene.
Judd said following the two attempted carjackings at the gas station, Hendrix ran onto State Road 557 and jumped off the side of the overpass onto I-4 westbound, causing a box truck to slam on its brakes to avoid hitting him. The box truck was then rear-ended by a semi-truck.
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating both of those crashes in addition to an earlier hit-and-run crash on I-4 Hendrix caused right before his attempted carjackings.
PCSO said a driver of a green Chevy pickup truck, who witnessed the two trucks crash, pulled over onto the shoulder to help, and Hendrix then tried to get into the back seat of the car. Deputies say the truck’s doors were locked so Hendrix then ran across I-4 to the other shoulder and got into the passenger seat of red Chevy Equinox, whose driver had also stopped to help. The driver of the Equinox took the keys out of the ignition and jumped out of the car.
Deputies who had just responded to the area took Hendrix into custody.
When Hendrix was placed into the back of a PCSO patrol car, Judd said he kicked out the rear window and attempted to escape.
“This violent, convicted felon was bound and determined to forcibly steal a car this morning, but our citizens said, not today,” Judd said. “While I’m grateful nobody was seriously injured, I’m also very proud of these four victims for keeping their wits about them and refusing to allow this man to take what’s theirs.”
Hendrix is being charged with one count of carjacking, one count of grand theft auto, two counts of occupied burglary, one count of felony criminal mischief and one count of escape.
According to PCSO, Hendrix’s criminal history includes six felonies and four misdemeanors, and in 2009 was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon (firearm). He was released from prison in January 2017. His previous charges were for attempted murder (downgraded to aggravated battery for which he went to prison), battery, possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, firing a missile into a dwelling, and driving while license canceled, suspended, or revoked.