Suspect in shooting near Rollins texted mom after firing at cops, police say

Teen arrested on attempted murder charges after hourslong manhunt

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor, Jerry Askin - Reporter

WINTER PARK, Fla. - A man accused of shooting a good Samaritan and firing at two officers texted his mother for help while he was hiding from authorities, according to the Winter Park Police Department.

The incident began with a shoplifting incident at Goodwill Industries on Orange Avenue in Winter Park, about a mile from Rollins College, around 2 p.m. Monday. Three of the suspect shoplifters were still at the store but one of them, identified later as 19-year-old Jerad Christopher Vasquez, had fled on foot.

Sgt. Lina Strube said she spotted Vasquez walking on the 900 block of Orange Avenue and as she was driving toward him, she saw a good Samaritan chasing him, according to the report. Police said Vasquez then turned around and shot the man, who dropped to the ground.

After shooting the victim, Vasquez shot multiple times at Strube's unmarked patrol vehicle, which had its emergency lights activated, authorities said. Strube's vehicle was hit twice in the front windshield and once in the hood, according to the affidavit.

Strube later told another officer that she was in fear for her life and, "I thought I would die today," the report said.

Vasquez ran after the shooting while Strube went to tend to the victim, who had been shot in the groin. While Strube and other officers were searching the area for Vasquez, he fired three to four shots at an officer who was giving him verbal commands to surrender, according to the affidavit.

Police said the officer returned two shots at the suspect, who then fled once again. The officer was not injured.

The search for Vasquez was once again underway when dispatch received a message from a woman who said she was Vasquez's mother. She told authorities that her son texted her saying he was "surrounded by cops and hiding" and he "was not going to jail" so he asked her to come pick him up.

The woman provided authorities a screenshot showing that Vasquez was hiding near Full Circle Yoga at 972 Orange Ave., according to the report.

Vasquez was arrested Monday night on charges of two counts of attempted murder on law enforcement officers and one count of attempted murder, along with other charges. Officials said he was found hiding under a trailer.

The search for Vasquez prompted a lockdown at Rollins College that lasted more than an hour.

On Tuesday, business owners along Orange Avenue said the shooting had put them on edge but they still felt safe.

The shooting left a window shattered at The Laughing Samurai. Others in the area said their shops were placed on lockdown and they had to hide in backrooms and under desks.

"We were in the thick of it, but we really didn't realize the seriousness of it. I think it's 'cause we were all together and we were kind of like, 'What's going on here?' It was almost like you were in a movie," Hattie Wolfe, owner of Wolfe Rizor Interiors, said.

Rick Caccavello showed News 6 a bullet hole that has since been covered on the building next to where he works. 

"Absolute chaos, I mean it was pretty intense," Caccavello said. "The guy with the gun was walking toward the window. We quickly shut those shades and went and lock the doors.

He said he saw the commotion.

"Once he got here, he saw the police officer and fired at him 4-5 times, but then the police officer returned fire," Cacavello said.   

Officers on Tuesday thanked business owners and employees for their cooperation during the search. 

Prosecutors said Vasquez is on a two-year probation after he plead guilty last month to a burglary charge and more felony charges. Records show he’s been arrested before on charges of grand theft, carrying a concealed weapon, resisting an officer without violence and more. 
 

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