TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A man was killed in a deadly shootout in Tampa early Saturday morning after a crime spree that “spanned several counties,” according to authorities.
“What we are about to describe this [morning] sounds like a movie plot of some big blockbuster action movie,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “The sad reality is that everything we’re about to tell you is true, and several communities were victimized by this bad guy.”
Chronister it all began with a domestic violence situation in Hernando County that crossed into Pasco County.
According to Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, the victim of the domestic violence incident said she was going to Wesley Chapel to pick up her child, who was at her parent’s house after the initial incident.
At 2:14 a.m., the victim called the Pasco Sheriff’s Office saying she arrived at her parents’ home, but shortly after, the dispatcher hears screams and gunshots through the line.
Nocco said his deputies arrived at the scene as soon as they could, but the father of the child began firing at them. According to the sheriff, the victim was shot at the home.
“She’s in surgery right now,” he said. “We believe it’s non-life-threatening.”
The pursuit continued through multiple jurisdictions before the gunman crashed his vehicle into a retention pond off of Hidden River Parkway and East Fletcher Avenue at 2:34 a.m., forcing him to abandon it.
This led to a “violent pursuit” where the shooter fired shots at the pursuing law enforcement officers, Chronister said.
“As he’s running across the street and law enforcement is closing in, he begins firing at law enforcement as they’re yelling multiple times to drop the gun,” Chronister said.
The sheriff said in all, members of his agency, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, and the Tampa Police Department attempted to take him into custody.
For four minutes, the shooter engaged in a gunfight with law enforcement officers, but a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, two Pasco County deputies, and a Hillsborough County deputy managed to fire back at the criminal, according to Chronister.
He said that the suspect fled again behind a nearby business complex, but when deputies followed, they found the suspect on the ground, injured from the shooting. First responders then took him to Tampa General Hospital for treatment.
“This suspect, this person who has started this reign of terror and, over several years, victimized multiple communities has died because of the injuries he has sustained here,” Chronister said.
The sheriff said the suspect was a 37-year-old man with a violent criminal history including 18 previous convictions.
Despite the suspect’s attempts to shoot his pursuers, no law enforcement officers were injured in this shootout.
“I couldn’t be more grateful,” Chronister said.
“If you shoot at one of us, we’re going to fire back,” Nocco said.
The FDLE will now take charge of this investigation due to the nature of the shooting. The Hillsborough deputy involved in the shooting has been placed on leave with pay pending the investigation, per standard protocol.
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