Man badgered, struck SUV in scary incident on Shands Bridge, sheriff says

William Larry Bennett faces 3 counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon

William Larry Bennett
William Larry Bennett (St. Johns County Sheriff's Office)

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A 24-year-old St. Johns County man is accused of tailgating and then hitting an SUV three times, causing some minor damage, and then continuing to badger the people inside the vehicle, which he told deputies was “driving too slowly,” officials said Friday.

William Larry Bennett faces three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and is charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

The situation began about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, as three people -- a newly licensed 16-year-old driver, the teen’s mother and the girl’s 14-year-old brother -- headed into the county over the Shands Bridge, deputies said.

Bennett was driving behind them.

At some point, he decided the victims were driving too slow, so he started following their SUV, a 2010 Toyota Highlander, extremely closely, deputies said.

Bennett hit the vehicle multiple times, honked his horn, flashed his lights, made hand gestures and yelled to the victims, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The teen driver behind the wheel of the SUV said she was especially in fear of being pushed off the bridge.

Bennett continued to follow and badger the victims even after passing his own home, deputies said. In the meantime, the victims pulled off the road the first chance they got and waited for authorities.

A witness who was driving behind the two vehicles continued to follow Bennett as the cars pulled into the Heritage Landing neighborhood, where that witness lived, deputies said.

That’s when it appeared that Bennett caught on to the fact that he was being trailed, so he stopped in the middle of the road and walked back to allegedly confront the witness, officials said.

The woman then started to call the Sheriff’s Office and Bennett returned to his vehicle, turned around and erratically drove home, authorities said.

Deputies found Bennett and his slightly damaged 2003 Dodge pickup truck at his Collier Road home, where he was arrested.

Bennett is now held on $6,000 bond at the county jail.

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