Man arrested in Orange County threatened to crash car into hospital, have shootout with police, FDLE says

Arrest warrant issued for Thomas James Stephan, 30, as he drove to Patrick Space Force base in Satellite Beach

Thomas James Stephan, 30, was arrested on Dec. 7 (Florida Department of Law Enforcement)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A South Carolina man accused of writing threats to commit an act of terrorism was arrested on Tuesday by Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials.

Thomas James Stephan, 30, a civilian Air Force police officer at a joint base in Charleston, was located in Orange County and detained by Orlando police until agents arrested him, according to FDLE.

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Officials said the South Carolina Fusion Center issued a warning that Stephan was in Florida on Tuesday and that they believed, based on a text exchange, he was driving to the Patrick Space Force base in Satellite Beach.

According to an arrest warrant, however, investigators located him on the South Kirkman Road overpass at Vineland Road, where he was threatening to jump.

Records show Stephan threatened to commit a mass casualty event with his vehicle by driving it into a hospital and to commit “suicide by cop” by engaging in a shootout with police.

The string of messages recovered show Stephan had identified a hospital and military base, most likely Patrick Space Force base, as targets in an act of terrorism to cause death and injury to multiple people, according to the warrant.

“Mass cass (sic) it is” was the last text message he sent to someone before being found by police, records reveal.

He is currently booked in the Orange County jail without bond.

Stephan’s case will be prosecuted by the state attorney’s office in the 18th judicial circuit.

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.