Manhunt leads to arrest of Winter Haven attempted murder suspect

Courtesy: Polk County Sheriff's Office

Haines City police arrested Lemuel Johnson Jr., 36, after they say he tried to run over an officer who pulled him over. 

According to police, Johnson was driving a 2017 Ford Escape around 11 p.m. when he was pulled over in the area of U.S. 27 and Bates Road. As Officer Haley McDonald walked toward the vehicle and asked Johnson to roll down his window, he accelerated toward her, forcing her to jump out of the way to avoid being seriously harmed.

Johnson continued east on Bates Road and was chased by officers from Haines City and the Davenport Police Department. After being located in the area of Uncle Tony Road and Kalogridis Road, police say Johnson left his vehicle and ran. That’s when a Haines City K-9 was deployed along with Air and Drone Units from the Polk County Sheriff's Office to help locate him.

After a perimeter was set up, a nearby resident called to report a "suspicious person" in a trailer on the resident's property.  Police found Johnson hiding in the trailer. They say initially refused to come out but ultimately surrendered, was arrested and later taken to the Polk County Jail. 

The Lake Wales Police Department had an outstanding warrant for Johnson's arrest for first-degree attempted homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon. 

Throughout the pursuit, there was a passenger in Johnson's vehicle. Police say he was cooperative with the investigation and told law enforcement that he was fearful and pleaded with Johnson to let him out of the vehicle during the pursuit, according to HCPD.

"As a result of outstanding police work and collaboration, a very dangerous person is off the streets," Chief Jim Elensky said. "A suspect wanted for trying to take someone's life put police officers, his passenger and everyone on the road in danger with these reckless actions. We're grateful that no one was hurt and appreciate the hard work of everyone involved to put him behind bars."

Johnson is being charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing to elude and driving with a suspended or revoked license. He is also charged with burglary of a structure, resisting arrest without violence and false imprisonment by the Polk County Sheriff's Office.