Suspects identified in undercover deputy shooting

- Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies said they were forced to fire at suspects during an undercover drug buy in Ruskin Tuesday night. 

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said deputies fired multiple shots at two suspects. Both suspects ended up in the hospital.

The first suspect, 20-year-old Luis F. Gutierrez, remains in the hospital with critical injuries.

The other suspect, 19-year-old Efren Esparza-Lopez, was released into custody Wednesday morning. He is facing four counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, along with attempted armed robbery and multiple drug charges.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Colonel Donna Lusczynski gave an account of the events on Tuesday.

Col. Lusczynski said it happened around 5 p.m. near the Wendy's restaurant at 3725 Sun City Center Blvd. The sheriff's office said undercover deputies set up a meeting near Wendy's to purchase cocaine from the two suspects.

While an undercover deputy spoke with the suspects, who were sitting in their vehicle, one of them pulled out a gun and attempted to rob the undercover deputy. 

Sheriff's deputies monitoring the situation began to move in when the weapon was revealed. That's when, according to HCSO, the suspect with the gun started shooting at the deputies.

The suspects backed up their vehicle, hit a deputy's vehicle, then began to drive away, but were blocked by another deputy cruiser. 

The suspects shot at the deputy cruiser and continued to drive away. Deputies chased the suspects and managed to disable their vehicle. One of the suspects ran, the other was taken to Tampa General Hospital. He was said to be in critical condition. 

The other suspect, Esparza-Lopez, later turned himself in to Brandon hospital and had non-life-threatening injuries. 

HCSO said six undercover deputies fired shots at the suspects during the ordeal. None of their names would be released because of their undercover status. 

"Our deputies were extremely lucky. You can see bullet holes in the passenger door of the vehicle, where one of the detectives exited the vehicle and was standing," Col. Lusczynski said. "It's truly a miracle that he wasn't hit."

Up Next:


Up Next

  • Suspects identified in undercover deputy shooting
  • Judge, quoting Carly Simon, denies request to move trial so witness can watch eclipse
  • Sundial, Bok Tower Gardens popular for eclipse-watchers
  • Search for female TV thief who struck twice, deputies say
  • Busy MacDill AFB about to get busier
  • Building codes have changed in 25 years since Hurricane Andrew
  • Donate used solar eclipse glasses to kids in South America, Asia
  • Manatee Co. monument brings protesters Monday night
  • Man who hit tow truck driver takes plea deal
  • Elderly woman followed home from store, robbed in driveway