Bank robber steals Seminole deputy's patrol car, leads officers on chase, sheriff says

Deputies forced to chase one of their own patrol vehicles, sheriff says

By ClickOrlando.com staff

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A man suspected of robbing a bank in Seminole County was arrested Wednesday after deputies say he stole a patrol car following an altercation with a deputy.

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said units were called to a Chase Bank on Wednesday afternoon on State Road 436 for a possible robbery.

A deputy pulled into the bank parking lot and saw a man coming out of the bushes, Lemma said, and immediately confronted the man.

Surveillance photos from Casselberry police show the suspect, later identified as Gumersindo Reyes Jr., 51, wearing a wig and a dress as he walks into the bank. Casselberry Police Chief Larry Krantz said the suspect changed clothing after the robbery.

When the deputy attempted to stun Reyes with a Taser, Reyes fled and the deputy chased him on foot into a nearby apartment complex, Lemma said. The deputy pulled his gun on Reyes but a struggle ensued and Reyes threw the deputy's radio to the ground, meaning he couldn't call for help, the sheriff said.

Reyes ran back across the street and jumped into the deputy's Sheriff's Office SUV. Lemma said Reyes fled the scene and deputies and Casselberry police began pursuing the patrol SUV.

"We were actually chasing one of our patrol vehicles that the guy stole," Lemma said.

Reyes was arrested in Maitland near U.S. 17/92 and Spartan Drive after deputies conducted a PIT maneuver. Reyes struck a bystander's vehicle, but Lemma said no one was hurt, including the deputy whose patrol car was stolen.

"There is nothing drives me crazier than to see or to know that a bad guy is behind the wheel of one of our patrol cars for even just one moment," Lemma said. "I’m OK that he was in the car, but he was sitting in the wrong seat."

The deputy used a Taser on the suspect twice while attempting to arrest him, Lemma said, but chose not to use deadly force. The sheriff said Reyes reached for the deputy's gun multiple times.

News 6 was at the scene around 4 p.m. when a man in handcuffs was placed into a Seminole County Sheriff's Office SUV.

Traffic is blocked on U.S. 17/92 south due to law enforcement officer activity.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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