POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A driver had no way of knowing the person he is accused of pointing a gun at Sunday afternoon was a state trooper.
“In this case, he picked the wrong person to deal with,” said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins.
The FHP said 32-year-old Matthew Reiter became agitated with the slow-moving traffic on the Polk Parkway in Auburndale, so he took out his AR-style gun and ended up pointing it at an off-duty trooper.
“We had a trooper that was off duty in his personal car. He was with his family. He got stuck in some traffic. Traffic slowed for unknown reasons as it does sometimes,” Sgt. Gaskins said. “The trooper created distance like he’s supposed to, got some good information from the vehicle like the tag number and called it into our dispatch center.”
Troopers arrived at the scene and began looking Reiter. When they could not find him on the Parkway, they went to his home.
“Once he pulled up, the troopers were already there waiting for him. Five weapons were found and they were confiscated and he was arrested,” said Sgt. Gaskins.
Sgt. Gaskins said other drivers should follow the trooper’s lead.
“Become a good witness, which is what our trooper did,” he added.
Reiter was arrested on six counts of firearms-related charges. He appeared in court on Monday.
“He is not a flight risk,” argued his defense attorney Bill Allen. “Mr. Reiter has been a lifelong resident of Auburndale, Florida, Your Honor. He resides in Auburndale, Florida.”
“What the defendant did is extremely reckless,” a prosecutor said. “When you have no issue pointing an assault style rifle at somebody on the Parkway, not once, but twice, I would argue that that is an extreme risk to the public.”
The judge set his bond at $16,500 for three counts each of aggravated assault and unlawful display of a weapon.
Reiter has no prior criminal record.
To Sgt. Gaskins, there is a message here for everyone:
“Think about what you’re doing when you’re out there. Is it really worth it? This guy’s looking at multiple felonies and he could spend several years in prison for this,” he said. “You need to use caution with who you deal with.”