LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Chris Dunnells says he did not ask many questions when he got a text message from a stranger requesting a ride on Sunday morning.
Dunnells advertises ride pickups on social media.
“I’m in need of money. I’m a single dad and it’s hard,” he said. “I don’t know really how he got my number and asked if this was still the number for cash Uber and I said yes. From that point on, we just made arrangements to pick him up.”
Around 11:15 a.m., Dunnells and his 11-year old son went to pick up his customer on Skyview Drive and Goodyear Avenue.
“We drove probably 10 minutes and I saw that he had a gun on his lap and it was pointed up at the front seat where my son was,” said Dunnells.
They got to Wildlife Trail, north of Lakeland, when Dunnells said the suspect told him to stop, hand over his phone, keys and wallet and get out.
“We got out and my son was frozen. I wouldn’t get out until he got out and I had to keep yelling at him, get out, get out. When he finally got out, he was still froze. And the guy pretty much almost ran him over,” said Dunnells.
Detectives say the man is about 6 feet tall. He has red hair and a bunny tattoo on his leg.
“[Suspect] steals his 2020 Rav Toyota. Well, we recovered that in Plant City but we’re looking for the identity on this guy,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “Tattoos help. If you recognize the man and the tattoo call us. We can give you some cash and we’ll take him to Gradytown.”
Crime Stoppers is offering up to $3,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest.
Dunnells, meanwhile, is grappling to come to terms with what happened.
“I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Just seeing a gun pointed at your child, that’s not something I’d wish on any parent,” he said.