LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A felon pretended to be an off-duty police officer so that he could steal a man's vehicle early Tuesday morning, according to the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies said the victim was parked in an empty lot at Skipper Lane and Empire Church Road in Groveland when he heard a knock on the driver's side window of his vehicle and looked up to see a man, later identified as Brandon Campos, claiming to be an off-duty officer and yelling at him to get out of his vehicle.
The victim repeatedly asked for Campos' name and badge number but because Campos kept yelling at him, he complied with the order to get out of the vehicle because he was in fear for his life, according to the affidavit.
"It was scary because I didn't know what was going on," the victim told News 6. "I wanted to know where my car was going. That's all I wanted to know. It's a brand new car."
Campos, 27, demanded that the victim step in front of the light from Campos' vehicle while he asked for the victim's name and whether he had weapons in the vehicle, the report said.
Deputies said Campos got irritated and made the victim lie face down on the ground. He then placed his knee on the victim's back and bent the victim's arm back so he couldn't move, according to authorities. There was a rope with a slip knot on the ground next to the victim, the affidavit said.
At that point, Campos took the keys from the victim's vehicle and drove off, authorities said. The victim then ran to his home nearby to call 911.
Deputies said the Honda Accord that Campos was originally in had been reported stolen out of Orlando. When they looked inside, they said they found a book bag that contained a picture of Campos.
While patrolling the area, deputies said they saw the victim's stolen 2018 Hyundai Sonata at Betty Lane and Mascotte. Campos sped up, ran a stop sign and crashed into a tree once he saw a patrol vehicle behind him, the report said.
He ran from the crash scene but stopped once a deputy engaged in a foot pursuit, according to the affidavit. The victim's stolen credit card was found in Campos' front pocket and the victim's loaded Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun that had been in the trunk of his vehicle was found in a black bag along with two magazines and a box of ammunition that Campos threw while running from the crash scene, authorities said.
Campos was charged with carjacking, impersonating a law enforcement officer during the commission of a felony, resisting an officer without violence, fleeing and eluding, driving with a suspended license, possession of a firearm by a felon, battery and grand theft auto. His bond is set at $286,000.
"I feel very happy," the victim said after the suspect's arrest. "Happy to be safe and sound and alive and I'm grateful."
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