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Polk Sheriff Grady Judd To Brief Media Regarding Deputy Involved Shooting

UPDATE: Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy forced to shoot robbery suspect armed with a rifle.

On Saturday, February 26, 2022, an armed-robbery suspect was apprehended by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, after the suspect, who was armed with a rifle, was shot by a PCSO sergeant on State Road 540 near Winter Haven.

No deputies were injured, and the suspect is being treated at a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The suspect was identified as a 27-year old white male, Matthew Correa.

Correa’s early morning violent crime spree began when he and an unknown white female, when the pair went to the Sunrise Supermarket (3035 Thornhill Road near Winter Haven) at about 8:19 AM Saturday morning, arriving in an older model white Chevrolet Tahoe. While there, Correa stole a red Toyota pickup truck, and the female left in the Tahoe.

A short time later, the Tahoe was abandoned on the side of eastbound SR 540, east of Thornhill Road.

At about 8:44 AM, the couple arrived at the Ramirez Tires store at 5108 Spirit Lake Road near Winter Haven. Correa and the female went into the store and asked an employee for money, but the employee said there was no money. Correa then pulled a rifle out of a duffle bag, closed the door to the office, pointed the gun toward the employee, and began looking for money.

A customer arrived at the store, so Correa and the female left suddenly.

While deputies were searching for the suspects, the stolen red truck was spotted driving southbound on US 17 near Cypress Gardens Boulevard.

Deputies attempted to stop the vehicle in the vicinity of SR 540, and made two unsuccessful attempts at disabling the vehicle with stop-sticks, and Correa intentionally tried to hit one of the deputies with the truck.

Correa then entered the eastbound lane of SR 540 and deputies were able to surround the truck and force it to stop, very close to where the Chevy Tahoe was abandoned.

While still in the truck, Correa pointed the rifle under his chin and told deputies multiple times to kill him. At this time the deputies attempted to deescalate the violent, dangerous situation.

During this series of events, Correa stood up in the sunroof holding the gun in a threatening manner. He then dropped from the sunroof out of sight for a moment, then stood up with a rifle in one hand, and a Busch Light beer bottle in the other, which he smashed against his forehead, breaking the bottle.

The sergeant who was behind Correa and unable to see the bottle, heard the popping noise and believed Correa had shot at his deputies.

The Sergeant fired one shot at Correa, striking him in the neck. Correa fell into the vehicle and dropped the rifle.

“Thank God none of our deputies were injured today. The suspect made several bad choices this morning, including the choice that forced our sergeant to shoot him. We still need help trying to determine who the white female suspect is and where she was left. She was not present during the traffic stop and shooting.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff

Anyone who has any information regarding the white female’s identity and/or whereabouts are asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200 or Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS.

Matthew Correa has a prior criminal history of three felonies, including a home invasion burglary, and spent five years in state prison.

Standard protocol for all deputy-involved shootings includes three independent investigations: PCSO will conduct a criminal investigation, PCSO Administrative Investigations will conduct an administrative inquiry, and the State Attorney’s Office will conduct a separate investigation.

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