LAKELAND, Fla. - A convicted felon who was wanted by the ATF sprayed bullets at deputies and officers across two Bay Area counties Wednesday, forcing a deputy to return fire, seriously injuring the suspect, according to the Hillsborough County sheriff.
Sheriff Chad Chronister said deputies chased the suspect on Interstate 4 from Hillsborough into Polk County, and onto New Tampa Highway in Lakeland, where the incident came to a violent end.
Francisco Cabrera is accused of committing three armed robberies in the last few weeks and two carjackings earlier Wednesday.
Alcohol tobacco and firearms officers had a warrant for his arrest. A Hillsborough County deputy found him at a Plant City Wendy’s restaurant and that’s where all the shooting started, the sheriff said.
Chronister said Cabrera fired at the deputy, then took off, getting onto I-4, where he fired more rounds.
When Cabrera got to Lakeland, a Lakeland Police Department officer performed a PIT maneuver, bringing Cabrera’s vehicle to a stop.
The sheriff said Cabrera and a deputy exchanged more gunfire before Cabrera was hit.
"He is the violent individual we were looking for. Thank God, for the safety on this community, that every law enforcement put their lives in danger today to make sure this individual never has the ability to harm another individual in either of our communities," Chronister said at a press conference after the incident.
Even though Cabrera fired a number of rounds at officers, none were hurt.
However, the sheriff says Cabrera was seriously injured. He was taken to Lakeland Regional Health where he is undergoing surgery.