FHP: Driver Tried to Run Over Deputies, Shoot Troopers During 3-County Pursuit
The driver, who was suspected of stealing the pickup truck, was captured after he was thrown from the vehicle when it crashed and overturned after FHP troopers completed a PIT maneuver.
TAMPA BAY – A Bushnell man was injured Sunday (April 28) in a crash that ended a three-county chase during which he tried to run over two Citrus County sheriff’s deputies and shot at troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol, according to law enforcement officials.
Travis Duane Lovett, 22, of Bushnell, was initially airlifted to the Regional Medical Center at Bayonet Point, then transferred to Tampa General Hospital for injuries sustained when the truck crashed, the Florida Highway Patrol said. No deputies or troopers were injured.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said Lovett will be charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault and one Count Aggravated Flee/Elude Law Enforcement for his crime spree in Citrus County. Deputies said Lovett led Citrus deputies on an “extensive chase” throughout the area of Inverness and Floral City.
“Incidents like this are always extremely dangerous. We try to use every precaution possible when we respond to these types of incidents,” Citrus Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. “When we have a suspect who is hell-bent on avoiding all contact with law enforcement, their behavior becomes unpredictable and erratic. This is especially true if they are dead set on not being caught, then they will risk their life, the lives of innocent citizens, and the lives of all our law enforcement deputies.”
Citrus deputies said the incident began about 7:17 a.m. when a four-door, burgundy Ford pickup truck was reported stolen from Mountain Lake Avenue in Floral City. As deputies began patrolling the area for the stolen pickup, a tipster called in about 9:15 a.m. to tell officials of the stolen truck’s location. Deputies responded to a home on E Muzzle Loaders Court in Inverness, where they saw the stolen truck.
Upon arrival, deputies said they spoke with an occupant of the home who granted permission to search the property. As deputies made their way behind the home, they saw Lovett inside the stolen truck. After seeing the deputies there, he tried to leave the scene.
Deputies said Lovett deliberately drove the stolen truck towards one of the deputies, who had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck, before the truck hit a fence and left. While trying to elude deputies, officials said, Lovett intentionally accelerated at another responding deputy, forcing him off the roadway to avoid a collision.
Lovett then drove “recklessly” throughout Inverness and Floral City, driving in the opposite lanes of traffic to lose officials. Deputies said Lovett drove down Rails to Trails, almost striking serveral pedestrians. Lovett led deputies into Hernando County where FHP troopers joined in the chase.
Troopers said they were contacted about 9:30 a.m. by the Citrus sheriff’s office requesting help in pursuing a stolen vehicle on State Road 44 west of U.S. 41, in which the suspect driver had tried to run over two deputies during their pursuit.
Several FHP troopers responded to the area and found Lovett at U.S. 41 and Kabrick Road. They began chasing the stolen truck.
The pursuit continued south into Hernando County and eastbound on CR-476 at which point troopers said they saw Lovett point an unknown object towards the back window of the truck.
Trooper said Lovett fired three rounds from a handgun at the troopers. One bullet struck a pursuing trooper’s right front windshield.
The pursuit continued eastbound on CR-476 into Sumter County where troopers said they successfully completed a PIT maneuver on the truck causing the pickup to overturn multiple times onto the south shoulder of CR-476.
Lovett, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the truck as it overturned and crashed.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is trying to identify any additional victims who sustained damage from this incident and are asking them to please contact the sheriff’s office at (352) 726-1121 to make a report.
He was taken into custody about 11:30 a.m.
Photos courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Florida Highway Patrol | Citrus Sheriff | Crime | Arrests | Chase | Tampabay News
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