Road rage arrest made in front of Hillsborough sheriff's office

Evan Axelbank reports

- A Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy was in the right place at the right time, after a bicyclist accused a driver of pulling a gun on him near the intersection of 142nd Ave. and 20th Street in Tampa.

"He blew the stop sign," said alleged victim, bicyclist Daniel Santiago. "He was going about 45 miles an hour."

Santiago said the driver, later identified as Bryan Copeland of Tampa, ran a stop sign, missing him by only a few feet.

"I screamed at him, I was like, 'what [are] you doing?'" Santiago recalled.

He says that's when Copeland backed up to the intersection, and things escalated.

"As soon as the reverse lights came on, I knew it was going to be an issue," said Deputy Mark Montano.

Montano was just across the street, outside of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's District 1 Office, doing a vehicle inspection. That's when he says he heard Santiago yelling, and then saw Copeland pull a gun.

"Everything went through my head. I just lost a son, seven months ago," Santiago said. "But to me, I was like, 'wow, I guess I am going to join my son.'"

Santiago said he watched Copeland stash the gun in his glove box.

"I tell him, 'oh, you have a gun? There's a cop right there.' He laughs at me, that's what he did" Santiago said, laughing.

The deputy called for backup, which arrived within seconds.  

"The whole station emptied out," Santiago said of the HCSO response from across the street.

Deputies quickly caught up with Copeland and arrested him. They found a gun, as well as a long knife next to the driver's side, deputies said.

"We can't say that all criminals are smart when they carry out their crimes," said Montano. "This definitely was an unfortunate location for the suspect today."

Santiago - a maintenance worker at an apartment complex - said he feels fortunate that the deputy happened to be watching as his life flashed before his eyes.

"If it wasn't for these guys, I would not be here today. I would not be here right now to speak and have this interview with you," he told FOX 13 News. "I honestly believe that, deep in my heart."

Copeland was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is in jail on a $4,000 bond.

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