Haines City detectives arrested an Orlando man who pointed a rifle at officers while they conducted a traffic stop, and later caused a car crash that injured two Haines City Police Officers.
Officers Jose Ramirez and Gedrick Vargas were conducting a traffic stop Saturday at approximately 5:21 p.m. when 19-year-old Robert Lee Smith III pointed a rifle at the officers and fled the scene in a black Toyota. Officers reported that the car was occupied by a black male (Smith) and a Hispanic female.
Officers Ramirez and Vargas attempted to apprehend the fleeing vehicle but their patrol car was struck by another vehicle at the intersection of E. Johnson Avenue and Power Line Road.
Both officers were transported to area hospitals, one of them by helicopter. They both received serious injuries but are in stable condition. One officer is undergoing surgery today.
The driver and passenger of the other car involved in the crash were transported to the hospital where they are recovering.
Smith failed to stop after the crash and fled the scene in the black Toyota.
Additional law enforcement officers from the Haines City Police Department, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Davenport Police Department responded to the area to assist the injured officers, civilians and to assist in the search for the armed suspect.
Detectives located Smith at his father’s home in Poinciana. Since the location was outside of Haines City, the Polk County Sheriff’s office assisted with locating and arresting Smith. When deputies searched Smith, they found approximately 31.5 grams of cannabis and drug paraphernalia in his possession.
No rifle was located at the scene of the arrest and Smith would not reveal its location.
Smith is currently facing the following charges: Additional charges are pending
– Two felony charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
– Possession of Cannabis over 20 Grams
“We are thankful that our officers, and the two innocent civilians, who were injured today by the actions of the suspect are in stable condition, and expected to recover from their injuries. I am very grateful for the rapid response from our department and surrounding law enforcement agencies. This incident was brought to a quick and successful resolution because of good police work by all involved. Persistence and teamwork helped take a dangerous criminal off the street in just a few hours,” said Haines City Police Chief Greg Goreck.
TWO HAINES CITY POLICE OFFICERS
INJURED DURING TRAFFIC STOP
Two Haines City police officers were injured while making a traffic stop near East Johnson Avenue and Powerline Road in Haines City.
The injuries were sustained when the police vehicle collided with another car, which was not the target of the traffic stop.
The area around the intersection of E. Johnson Avenue and Power Line Road is blocked off while police and sheriff’s deputies investigate the incident. Residents should avoid the area as it will likely be blocked off for several hours or longer this evening.
The incident is still under investigation and more details will be released when available.
Currently no information is available about the other drivers.