Traffic is flowing again on Interstate 4 in Florida after an armed suspect was shot by deputies Sunday morning.
A 911 call came into the Polk County Sheriff’s Office shortly before 8:15 a.m. regarding a man throwing Molotov cocktails onto the roof of a Lakeland home, the department said in a news release.
The first deputy on scene reportedly witnessed Luke Neely, 30, throw one of seven Molotov cocktails. He says two exploded on the house and the others rolled down and ignited the yard, according to FOX 13 Tampa Bay. Neely then allegedly got into an older-model Chevrolet pickup truck and took off. The deputy attempted a traffic stop, but the truck did not stop, and fled south on US 98, authorities said.
A precision immobilization technique (PIT) was attempted on the fleeing truck on US 98/Florida Avenue, but did not result in the immobilization of the truck. The truck then got on I-4 westbound with deputies in pursuit.
In the area of the westbound on-ramp to I-4 from Branch Forbes Road in Hillsborough County, the fleeing truck slowed because of damage sustained by the PIT maneuver, allowing deputies to block and ram the truck ending the pursuit.
Neely exited the truck, and was in possession of an “AR-style” rifle. Polk deputies immediately fired at Neely, incapacitating him. Deputies then disarmed him, including another firearm he had on his person, and began treating his wounds. He was taken to an area hospital with gunshot wounds that were said not to be life threatening.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the deputy-involved use of force because the incident occurred in Hillsborough County. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office crime scene unit is assisting with the investigation at the scene. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the arson and fleeing-to-elude incidents occurring in Polk County.
“One of our deputies sustained a wrist injury, but other than that, the only person who was injured is the arsonist who fled from our deputies and threatened them. For this I am very thankful,” Sheriff Grady Judd said.