Brevard County, FL – Authorities rescued two kidnapped women and fatally shot the man who had taken them hostage after a high-speed chase through three Florida counties on Saturday night.
The pursuit began at about 8 p.m. on June 25 after the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office contacted Brevard County to warn they had crossed into their jurisdiction in pursuit of a vehicle connected to a shooting that occurred in Osceola County, WFTV reported.
Deputies believed the suspect vehicle contained a wounded hostage who was kidnapped during the earlier incident but it turned out that two women had been taken.
Officials have not yet released any details about what led up to the initial kidnapping, nor have they released the identities of the women who were kidnapped.
Brevard County Sherriff Wayne Ivey told reporters during a press briefing that the suspect fired numerous rounds at Indian River County sheriff’s deputies during the early part of the chase.
Sheriff Ivey said that shortly after the pursuit crossed into Grant-Valkaria in southern Brevard County, the suspect left the roadway.
He said the suspect’s vehicle crashed in a field and became disabled near Old Dixie Highway and Foley Lane.
The sheriff said the suspect threw the wounded victim out of the vehicle at that point and moments later, fled into the woods while holding his second hostage at gunpoint, WFTV reported.
Officers briefly lost sight of the suspect and his hostage but aviation units swooped in to assist.
The sheriff said helicopters from the Osceola County, Indian River County, and Brevard County sheriff’s offices that had been deployed to assist with the pursuit helped deputies locate the suspect and the hostage in the woods.
Sheriff Ivey said that with guidance from the aviation units, law enforcement officers were able to intercept the suspect, and then the suspect opened fire on them.
Officers returned fire and a gunfight ensued.
The gun battled ended when the suspect was fatally shot by officers and deputies, WFTV reported.
Deputies rescued the second hostage and transported her to a nearby hospital where the first victim was already receiving treatment.
Sheriff Ivey said that no law enforcement officers were injured during the shootout with the suspect, WFTV reported.
“The suspect is dead. The victims are safe. And all of these men and women that were involved in this are heroes,” the sheriff told reporters.
“They saved two lives tonight and saved each other,” he continued. “They were all in harm’s way. This was a very violent individual that was going to kill these two victims – and actually shot one of the hostages – he was going to do everything he could to harm our deputies and our officers.”
The sheriff said that members of all the responding law enforcement agencies had fired rounds during the gun battle.
“Bad guys are dead and good guys are going home safe,” Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers told reporters.
“This guy picked the wrong place to have a gunfight and he’s no longer stealing oxygen,” Sheriff Ivey agreed.
The law enforcement officers who engaged in the gunfight with the suspect have been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), as is protocol for all officer-involved shootings.
Officials credited the deputies from all of the three counties involved and Sebastian police officers for working together to rescue the hostages.
Officials told reporters that it was a seamless, coordinated effort by multiple agencies and jurisdictions.
“They were all a team, all on one mission to save these two victims,” Sheriff Flowers explained.
Sheriff Ivey said the investigation included five different crime scenes.