Accused car thief shot by officers during pursuit
ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Detectives with the Orlando Police Department say a suspect in an alleged car theft was injured in an officer-involved shooting which followed a lengthy pursuit around the city.
The shooting victim stole a car after the owner of a used car dealership had arranged a test drive.
"He was asking if the car has warranty, something regular customers do," said Catalina Jaramillo of Motor One.
After fueling up at a gas station along South Semoran Blvd., police said the suspect drove off, leaving the car owner, Andres Mejai, behind.
"I take my phone and call my wife and said called 911," Mejai explained.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse was later tracked through GPS at a shopping center in the 9900 block of Universal Blvd.
"Our car has a GPS device, so I give the information to the police so they can track and follow him," said Catalina.
Officers in unmarked cars attempted to stop the suspect, who backed the stolen vehicle into a business that was located at the shopping center. Yoga studio owner Anjli Cummings described what happened.
"They were shouting 'Freeze!' and he backed straight up onto the day spa. The window crashed down onto the car and he sped off," Cummings said.
When the suspect drove toward the officers, shots were fired, according to Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon. The suspect then fled from the scene and pursuit ensued. A short while later, some Orlando Police K9 units located the suspect in an industrial area and attempted to stop the car, but the driver struck one of the officer's vehicles before escaping.
"He continued to elude the officers and eventually crashed into, I believe, an elderly couple -- the elderly couple is expected to be okay," said Chief Rolon. "He ended up at the Lake Nona exit off [State Road] 417, where he crashed the car, and as the car became disabled... he got out of the car."
Officers were at the scene when the suspect attempted to flee on foot. When they deployed K9s, the suspect dropped to the ground and was taken into custody, Chief Rolon added.
The suspect had at least one gunshot wound and was taken to nearby Nemours Hospital and then flown by helicopter to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
"He is expected to survive his injuries," Chief Rolon said.
The suspect has only been identified as an Hispanic man. No other details were immediately released.
"He put a lot of people's lives in danger when he did what he did," Rolon added.