Car theft suspects strike man, crash stolen car

4 in custody, 1 suspect in life-threatening condition


CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A man was struck by a car driven by suspected thieves and injured in a restaurant parking lot in Middleburg on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said the suspects were trying to also steal 23-year-old Adrian Johns' car about 3 p.m.

Johns was taken by his family Wednesday night to Orange Park Medical Center to be checked for minor injuries. Deputies said he is expected to recover well despite being hit by the suspects.

Deputies said four other adults were involved in Wednesday's incident. They consider the two men suspects, and two women, initially thought to be witnesses, were later said to be accomplices.

Investigators said Johns parked his green Ford Explorer in a parking lot near McDonald's and Cedar River Seafood restaurants in Middleburg and went inside to eat. They said he saw someone trying to enter his vehicle and then left the restaurant to confront him.

Clay County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Michael Rafuse
Clay County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Michael Rafuse

A second vehicle, a black Toyota car driven by three accomplices, hit Johns as he crossed the parking lot.

Both the Toyota, now known to be a stolen car from Jacksonville, and Johns' stolen car fled the area driven by the suspects and headed east on C.R. 220, deputies said.

A deputy spotted Johns' stolen Explorer in the parking lot of the BP gas station at C.R. 220 and Henley Road and approached it on foot.

Deputies said the suspects, all four in the victim's Explorer after abandoning the Toyota nearby, drove off at a high speed going west on C.R. 220, lost control and crashed into the wood line near Hollar's Place.

The crash of Johns' stolen Explorer occurred 12 minutes after the initial incident at the restaurant where the car owner was struck, deputies said.

The male suspect, who detectives believe was driving the stolen car that struck Johns, is Aaron Beckworth. Deputies said his last known address is in Georgia.

Detectives were working to gather info on how Beckworth knows the others involved. Deputies said Beckworth is at UF Health Jacksonville in serious but stable condition.

The second male suspect, identified as 25-year-old Michael Rafuse (pictured above from previous arrest), is in critical condition at UF Health Jacksonville. According to CCSO, he is the suspect who detectives believe stole Johns' Explorer and was driving it when the crash occurred on C.R. 220.

Deputies said FHP is in charge of the crash investigation and notified Rafuse's family overnight.

The two women were treated for minor injuries at OPMC.

A warrant was obtained for Rafuse on charges of grand theft auto and aggravated battery with intent to kill. His bond was set at $75,000.

A warrant was obtained for Beckworth on the same charges, plus an additional charge of leaving the scene with injuries. He was released from the hospital Thursday and picked up by Jacksonville police on active warrants in Duval County. He was being held in the Duval County jail with bail set at $100,000.

Grand theft auto warrants were obtained for the two women, Allison Wilds and Cheri Wood. Wilds was being held in the Duval County jail on that charge pending transfer to Clay County on $25,000. Wood remains at large, wanted on $25,000.