INVERNESS, Fla. (FOX 13) - Dash cam video released Monday shows the moments a man tried to avoid getting caught with a stolen truck, shooting at authorities before crashing the truck Sunday morning in Citrus County.
The owner of the stolen truck told FOX 13 he felt helpless seeing his vehicle used for crimes. Lucas Williams discovered it was missing Sunday morning while he was at work at a fire station.
“My wife called me on her way to work saying ‘Hey, did one of your friends pick up your truck to work on it?' I said 'No,’” said Williams.
He reported it stolen. The truck ended up miles away at a house on Muzzle Loaders Court in Inverness. A neighbor saw a social media post about the stolen truck and called it in to authorities when she saw it in her neighbor’s yard.
When Citrus County deputies showed up, the deputies said the suspected thief, Travis Lovett, 22, took out a neighbor’s fence and tried to run deputies over to get away.
"Lovett deliberately drove the stolen vehicle towards one of the deputies, who had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck, before striking a fence and leaving," the sheriff's office said. "While trying to elude deputies, Lovett intentionally accelerated at another responding deputy, forcing the deputy off the roadway to avoid a collision."
Citrus deputies and Florida Highway Patrol chased him for two hours through Citrus, Hernando, and Sumter counties. FHP dash cam video captured the moment the suspect even fired shots at them, a bullet piercing a trooper’s windshield. Williams said he saw the footage on FOX 13.
“I’m not behind the wheel, but I’m watching it do criminal acts where it’s putting people’s lives in jeopardy and my sole purpose in life is to help people. So it kind of makes your stomach turn,” said Williams.
Investigators said Lovett drove recklessly through Inverness and Floral City, driving into oncoming traffic and nearly striking pedestrians in order to lose the following deputies.
"When we have a suspect who is hell-bent on avoiding all contact with law enforcement, their behavior becomes unpredictable and erratic," said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Pendergrast. "This is especially true if they are dead set on not being caught, then they will risk their life, the lives of innocent citizens, and the lives of all our law enforcement deputies."
Troopers outmaneuvered the suspect, causing him to flip and crash.
Lovett was ejected from the vehicle and airlifted to Bayonet Point, then transferred to Tampa General Hospital. He is listed in serious but stable condition. He was most recently in jail for grand theft auto in January, according to FHP reports.
The Citrus County Sheriff's Office said Lovett will be charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated fleeing/eluding of law enforcement. Charges from FHP are pending.
Deputies are looking to identify any additional victims who sustained damage from the incident. Anyone affected is asked to call 352-726-1121 to file a report.