JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man accused of firing shots at a police officer during a traffic stop is suspected in a string of business robberies, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
The incident between the suspect and officer occurred on Monday afternoon. JSO Director of Investigations Mike Bruno said during a Tuesday news conference that police had been investigating “more than a half-dozen robberies to businesses” that occurred over the past week.
“Yesterday, March 8, at approximately 1:40 p.m., the suspect robbed yet another business,” Bruno said, referring to a robbery at a check-cashing store on Edgewood Avenue.
Less than 30 minutes later, Bruno said, a robbery was reported at a motel on New Kings Road, where a witness gave police a description of a red Toyota RAV4. He said an officer spotted the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop on Line Street.
Bruno showed footage from the officer’s bodycam, which shows within four seconds, the driver of the SUV’s door was open as the officer stepped out of the cruiser. A couple of seconds later, a male passenger is seen with his hands above his head, walking toward the back of the SUV.
“Get on the ground!” the officer is heard yelling. The passenger lies down.
Seconds later, shots are fired. One shattered the driver’s side window of the officer’s car and other slugs penetrated the cruiser.
“The driver began shooting at our officer. The officer is able to return fire while still taking cover,” Bruno said.
Bruno revealed a third passenger -- a woman -- also exited the vehicle at some point. The driver then fled the scene in the SUV. He was later captured, the Sheriff’s Office said, hiding in a dumpster on Pickettville Road.
Luis Rodriguez, 40, was charged with the attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and two counts of armed robbery. Andre Williams, 50, and Elizabeth Steele, 39, were charged with armed robbery.
“We potentially have six additional robberies that Rodriguez will be charged with,” Bruno said.
The male passenger was injured, although it’s unclear how he sustained those injuries.
The officer involved, J.A. Ledyard, was placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. He was not struck by gunfire. Ledyard has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 2015.
Records show it was Ledyard’s second police-involved shooting. In November 2018, police said he shot and wounded Tyrone Buckman, who was armed with a handgun. That shooting was ruled justifiable by the State Attorney’s Office.