ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A shooting took place along State Road 528 on Thursday, leaving three people hospitalized, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.
The instigator, who deputies are now calling a suspect, hasn’t been named, but officials have identified him as a 41-year-old man.
Just before 5:45 p.m., deputies were called to two locations -- a Hampton Inn at 7500 Futures Drive and a McDonald’s at 8175 S. John Young Parkway -- to investigate a shooting.
John Epley, who had just arrived in town with his co-workers for a tow show, recalled what happened as he told his side of the story to News 6.
“I was (behind the wheel) at the toll booth when I spotted a gentleman beating on a woman in a truck -- hitting her several times (and) pulling her hair,” Epley said.
Epley, a veteran, said he couldn’t help but intervene, so he pulled up alongside the couple’s truck.
“(My co-workers and I) asked him to stop hitting her,” Epley said. “He rolled his window down. He was in an outrage (and) tried to get out of his truck, so we took off.”
Epley had two co-workers in the back of his truck, ages 23 and 32, and someone in the front seat as well.
Then the suspect started following their truck.
The two drivers were stopping and going, until they wound up side by side again.
“My guys hollered he had a gun, so I showed him my gun, hoping that would be the end of it,” Epley said. “(I) went as fast as (I) could go to get out of the way. He got beside us and shot into my back window -- (at) two of my employees. I tried to shoot two rounds out the window so he would stop.”
That’s when the driver sped off, Epley said. The shooting happened at the Consulate Drive exit.
It was Epley who called 911 and pulled over at the Hampton Inn to request an ambulance for his co-workers, who were bleeding badly, he said.
One was shot in the arm and the other was hit near his neck.
At the Hampton Inn, the group met with officials and told deputies about the physical fight that they had witnessed between the man and woman. Deputies investigated the victims’ truck and the gun they used to return fire.
Meanwhile, the suspect’s girlfriend dropped him off at the McDonald's and then took off. Deputies haven’t caught up with her yet, but they’d like to locate the truck and the suspect’s gun.
None of the injuries involved are believed to be life-threatening, however, at last check, the suspect underwent surgery. Everyone who was injured was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Officials haven’t released a description of the suspect’s girlfriend or the truck.