WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – A man suspected in a series of central Florida crimes broke a beer bottle over his head and was shot by a sheriff’s deputy who thought the sound was a gunshot, officials said.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Saturday that deputies were trying to arrest the 27-year-old man when he stood up through the sunroof of a pickup truck holding a rifle in one hand and a bottle of Busch Light beer in the other.
The sergeant, who was behind the suspect and wasn't able to see the bottle “heard the popping noise" and thought the man had shot at his deputies, Judd said. He fired one shot, hitting the man in the neck.
The man was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not thought to be life threatening. No one else was injured in the Saturday morning shooting.
The man, who was with a female companion, stole a red Toyota pickup truck from a supermarket parking lot in Winter Haven, officials said.
A short time later, the pair went into a tire store and asked an employee for money, officials said. When told there was no money, the man took a rifle from a duffle bag and pointed it at the employee. He started looking around for money but left when a customer arrived.
Deputies began looking for the pair, and spotted the red pickup truck. They were unsuccessful in using stop sticks, and the man tried to hit a deputy with the truck, officials said.
As he continued, deputies were able to close in around him. The man put the rifle under his chin and told deputies to kill him.
“He then dropped from the sunroof out of sight for a moment, then stood up with a rifle in one hand, and a Busch Light beer bottle in the other, which he smashed against his forehead, breaking the bottle,” according to a sheriff's news release.
The deputy fired, striking the man.
”Thank God none of our deputies were injured today,” the sheriff said. “The suspect made several bad choices this morning, including the choice that forced our sergeant to shoot him.”