Sheriff: Failed carjacker doused with gas, held at gunpoint

Suspect accused of causing I-4 crashes

Christopher Hendrix and his truck. (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – A hit-and-run driver went on a crime spree that involved him trying and failing to steal four separate vehicles and in the process being doused with gasoline and held at gunpoint, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said 32-year-old Christopher Hendrix fled the scene after he was involved in a crash on Interstate 4 at exit 38 at about 7:45 a.m. that left his vehicle disabled.

“He runs up to the Marathon gas station on (State Road) 557, which is just south of the interstate, and he tried to steal this lady’s vehicle, her gray Chevy Colorado pickup truck. Well, she didn’t think much of that. In fact, she was in the process of gassing her vehicle when he tried to get in so she appropriately took the gas nozzle and sprayed him with gasoline,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

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From there, Hendrix is accused of getting inside a Chrysler Town and Country van that was parked nearby in an attempt to steal that but the owner saw what was happening.

“So the man, who has a concealed weapons permit, properly pulled out his firearm and extracted Christopher from his vehicle at gunpoint. He would have been totally justified if he’d have shot Christopher, but he didn’t want to do that and Christopher complied and got out of the vehicle,” Judd said.

Deputies said after Hendrix’s second failed carjacking attempt, Hendrix ran to SR 557 and jumped off the side of an overpass onto I-4, causing a box truck driver to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the suspect.

That box truck was then rear-ended by a semi-truck, records show.

“Well, Christopher sees that he’s caused another kerfuffle so he flees and he runs to the other side of the westbound traffic where a very nice person driving a green pickup truck stopped to help. So he tries to get in that vehicle. Well that fella doesn’t think too much about that as well and he’s got his doors locked so he can’t get in there,” Judd said.

According to deputies, Hendrix tried to carjack another Good Samaritan who’d stopped to help with the crash but as soon as Hendrix got in the victim’s Chevrolet Equinox, the driver took the keys out of the ignition and ran.

Judd said the struggle didn’t stop after Hendrix was taken into custody.

“We arrived at force and we take Christopher Hendrix into custody and we put Christopher Hendrix in handcuffs in the back of our car. He is not pleased. Christopher Hendrix tries to escape. He kicks the back windows out of the patrol car in an effort to escape. Not only was he going to escape, he was going to steal our handcuffs, too. We didn’t appreciate that very much,” Judd said.

The sheriff said deputies were able to “wrestle” Hendrix under control and take him to the county jail. He’s glad no residents were hurt during the ordeal.

“But you know what is really cool about Polk County? We fight back. We fight back against criminals. We carry concealed firearms and heck, the lady that didn’t have a concealed firearm used a gas hose, which worked just remarkably well,” Judd said.

Hendrix is facing charges of carjacking, grand theft auto, occupied burglary and criminal mischief.