Gunman fled from UCF police weeks before shooting Orlando officers

Daton Viel’s car was used in a Miami murder last month, authorities said

ORLANDO, Fla. – The gunman who shot two Orlando police officers Friday night was recently stopped by police at the University of Central Florida, but managed to escape in his car as UCF officers tried to arrest him on a series of warrants, court records uncovered by News 6 reveal.

That vehicle, a red Ford Fusion, was later used as a getaway car in a murder, according to Miami-Dade police.

Daton Viel, 28, was killed by the Orlando Police SWAT team early Saturday morning, hours after investigators said Viel shot and critically wounded two of their fellow officers.

Viel, who has an extensive criminal history, was most recently arrested in March.

According to court records, Viel approached a teenage girl as she was walking to an undisclosed high school and offered to give her a ride.

[EXCLUSIVE: Become a News 6 Insider (it’s FREE) | PINIT! Share your photos]

Viel, whose identity was unknown to the teen, drove her to Trotter’s Park in Orlando, where investigators said he performed multiple sex acts on the minor against her will.

Viel later took the teen back to her school, where surveillance cameras captured images of Viel’s red 2016 Ford Fusion, court records show.

Authorities arrested Viel on felony charges of sexual battery and molestation after investigators identified him through DNA left on the victim’s body.

Viel was released from jail April 14 after posting a $125,250 bond, court records show.

At the time of Viel’s arrest for sexual battery, he was on probation under the supervision of the Florida Department of Corrections, court records show.

Viel’s probation stemmed from a conviction for trespassing at an Orange County construction site in 2019 and charges of aggravated assault, arson and battery that occurred in Georgia in 2020, FDOC records indicate.

Following Viel’s sexual battery arrest, FDOC placed the probationer on electronic monitoring.

On June 14, FDOC officials discovered Viel had cut off his electronic monitoring equipment and moved out of his aunt’s Apopka home without notifying his probation officer, court records show.

An Orange County circuit court judge later issued an arrest warrant for Viel for violating the terms of his probation.

About two weeks later, on June 30, a license plate reader located at UCF detected a vehicle with a stolen tag entering campus on Gemini Boulevard, court records show.

Two UCF police officers stopped the vehicle, a red 2016 Ford Fusion, and identified Viel as the driver.

Viel told the officers he had come to the UCF campus to see a girlfriend and knew he shouldn’t be driving because his license was suspended and he did not have insurance on the car, records indicate.

While one of the officers was removing the stolen license plate from Viel’s car, dispatchers alerted the officers that Viel had an active arrest warrant.

As UCF police officer Rodger Smith told Viel to turn around and place his hands behind his back, Viel took two steps back, asked the officer why he was being arrested, and then began running away, according to court records.

Officer Smith drew his Taser as he chased after Viel, records show, but Smith slipped on grass that was wet from irrigation sprinklers and was unable to deploy the Taser’s probes.

Viel ran across Research Parkway and around a UCF engineering building, according to a report.

Another UCF police officer who originally stayed with Veil’s car reportedly saw the fugitive and attempted to apprehend him.

That’s when Vielgot back into his car and drove away from the UCF campus at a high rate of speed, records show.

Officers canvassed the area, but were unable to locate Viel or his car, according to a report.

On July 10, a red Ford Fusion that authorities now believe belonged to Viel was caught on camera leaving the scene of a murder in Miami.

According to Miami-Dade police, an unidentified gunman wearing a ski mask approached Michael Williams, Jr. as he sat on the front porch of his home.

Williams tried to run away, police said, but the gunman chased after him while shooting at victim.

The gunman left the murder scene in a red Ford Fusion with a temporary license plate, authorities said.

On Friday night, more than three weeks after the Miami homicide, two unidentified Orlando police officers spotted the wanted vehicle near Washington Street and Garland Avenue in Downtown Orlando.

Viel shot and critically wounded the two police officers, investigators said, before fleeing the area.

Authorities located Viel inside a Holiday Inn near Universal Orlando Resort Saturday morning, according to investigators.

Viel began shooting at the SWAT team, police said, prompting officers to shoot and kill Viel.

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily:

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades.