Suspect dead after pursuit in Vero Beach ends in shooting, authorities say

Suspect had active warrants and seven felony convictions

By Thomas Metevia - Graham Media Group

VERO BEACH, Fla. - A vehicle pursuit in Vero Beach ended in a deputy involved shooting Friday night, leaving one person dead.

The Indian River County Sheriff's Office received calls from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office about a vehicle pursuit heading southbound on Interstate 95 from Cocoa.

Brevard County gave updates as the pickup truck with an open flatbed trailer stopped at a rest stop. 

"Two passengers, one juvenile (17) and one adult, exited the fleeing vehicle," authorities said.

Brevard deputies took two of the passengers into custody as the driver and the truck continued down I-95, fleeing south toward Indian River County.

"Cursory interviews with the two passengers revealed the driver of the vehicle had active arrest warrants and was considered armed and dangerous. They confirmed that the driver was in possession of an AR-15 rifle and a handgun," authorities said in a news release.

An Indian River deputy in an unmarked vehicle threw out stop sticks before the county line. The truck struck the sticks causing the tires on the truck and trailer to deflate. Patrol cars were able to clear most of the traffic in the area as the suspect's vehicle traveled at low speeds on I-95.

According to the Indian River County Sheriff''s Office, "At the 152 mile marker, the fleeing vehicle attempted a wide turn in the median. A K-9 deputy used his patrol vehicle to block the fleeing vehicle from getting back on to I-95 northbound. As the deputy in the unmarked patrol truck followed the fleeing vehicle into the median, the suspect fired several rounds at the deputy." 

"At least two rounds struck the unmarked patrol truck. Both the deputy in the unmarked patrol truck and the K-9 deputy exchanged gunfire with the wanted subject. "

Neither the deputy nor the K-9 were injured during the pursuit. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. The suspect's name has not been released. 

Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar stated, “We are proud of the actions of our deputies last night. Our dispatchers and aviation team did an outstanding job of providing our deputies on the ground with information they needed to make good split second decisions, preventing this wanted subject from further endangering the public. One of the rounds fired by the fleeing felon struck the headrest of our deputy’s truck. Fortunately, he had just moved out of the way, escaping what would have likely been a fatal shot. Our entire team acted heroically and are to be commended for their efforts to protect our community.”

According to officials, the suspect had active arrest warrants from Brevard County for violation of probation and drug charges, indicating that he would be considered armed and dangerous. 

"Since 1996, this career criminal has been arrested more than 20 times for felony charges and more than 10 times for misdemeanors, racking up seven felony convictions. The two deputies who discharged their weapons were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard protocol."

The suspect's AR-15 was found at the scene and deputies were able to see drugs in plain view. A full inventory of the truck is pending the filing of a search warrant this week.

Stay with News 6 on air and online for updates.

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