LAKELAND, Fla. – A man has been taken into custody and is facing numerous charges after an armed carjacking, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.
Deputies said they received information around 6:15 a.m. Saturday that a stolen McKenna Brothers Inc. fuel truck was parked in a cul-de-sac on Saddlewood Boulevard.
The truck had been stolen sometime between Thursday and Friday from an orange grove in Lake Wales. Deputies said it was during the same time frame that an armed carjacking suspect was actively eluding law enforcement agencies.
Wesley Grace, 31, was armed and wearing camouflage when he was seen walking away from the stolen fuel truck into a nearby wooded area off Saddlewood Boulevard, deputies said.
Authorities arrived to set up a perimeter and a SWAT team began staging nearby on Rockridge Road. Deputies said they also secured the stolen fuel truck, which was being processed by crime scene investigators.
While the SWAT team was getting prepared, the Sheriff's Office said it received a call from a home on Moore Road in Lakeland about a stolen truck.
The victim told the Sheriff's Office that a person covered in dirt and wearing camouflage stole her four-door GMC Sierra pickup truck parked on her property.
Authorities arrived and helped the victim activate On-Star technology to find the stolen truck. Deputies said information about the stolen truck was broadcast. The suspect's description matched that of Grace, deputies said.
The truck was seen by Lake Hamilton police officers and found by On-Star GPS in Haines City. A Sheriff's Office helicopter arrived and began following the truck. Deputies said the truck turned onto White Clay Pit Road, and Grace fled from the truck on foot into an orange grove and then into a grape arbor.
Grace had shed his clothing and was only wearing what appeared to be shorts or underwear, the Sheriff's Office said.
The helicopter's pilot directed authorities on the ground to Grace's location. Deputies said he was apprehended around 9:10 a.m. by a canine team.
Grace was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for his dog bite wounds, deputies said.
Grace had Polk County warrants for his arrest for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, use of a firearm during a felony and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, the Sheriff's Office said. Grace was expected to be booked into the Polk County Jail for those charges.
Deputies said Grace is also suspected in the Bartow carjacking, shooting at a PCSO helicopter and theft of the fuel truck. Numerous further charges were pending.