PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (WFLA) — An Englewood man was accused of chasing three juveniles through Punta Gorda in his truck while firing a shotgun and shouting racial slurs at them.

According to a release from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, the three frantic minors called dispatch on Thursday evening as they were driving through the ranchettes, saying they were being chased by a man in a red pickup truck who was shooting at them.

The man – later identified as Steven Charles Whitney, 44 – allegedly began chasing them towards Arcadia, but dispatch had the juveniles turn around and meet up with deputies in a safe place.

Deputies searched the area and found a red truck parked at Grove Blvd. and Maris Rd. with Whitney inside. When they asked him to show his hands, Whitney reportedly threw the truck in reverse and fled from deputies.

CCSO said the pursuit lasted less than two minutes. Deputies said Whitney pulled onto Maris Dr. and ran towards a fifth-wheel camper, where he was arrested.

Deputies said they found 12 shotgun shells in Whitney’s pockets, with more scattered around the area. They executed a search warrant on his truck and home, where they found a 12-gage shotgun and ammunition, spent handgun casings and clothing that allegedly matched the juveniles’ description of the suspect.

Deputies said Whitney was combative as he was taken into custody.

“I want to commend my 911 operators and deputies for their fast actions in this case, which resulted in a violent criminal being apprehended,” Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell said. “These juveniles showed courage in the face of a frightening and vile encounter and now Steven Whitney is back where he belongs.”

Whitney was booked into the Charlotte County Jail on the following charges:

  • DUI
  • Driving with a suspended license (second offense)
  • Fleeing to elude police
  • Possession of firearm/ammo by a convicted felon
  • Resisting police
  • Failure to register motor vehicle
  • Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (3 counts)
  • Discharge of a firearm in public