PORT RICHEY, Fla. - A ‘gang member’ with a lengthy criminal record is dead and a Pasco County Sheriff’s deputy is on paid administrative leave following a shooting early Saturday morning in Port Richey, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
According to PCSO, a deputy responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle at the Rodeway Inn on US 19, just south of SR 52 conducted a traffic stop on the car around 12:45 a.m.
Major Tait Sanborn says as soon as the vehicle stopped, the suspect got out of the car and aggressively approached the deputy who found himself in the middle of a confrontation as soon as he exited his vehicle. The fight was so heated that the deputy’s body camera fell off, according to Sanborn.
PCSO says as the confrontation continued, the suspect tried to pull away and return to the car with the deputy in close pursuit.
"The deputy was so close that as the suspect got into the car, he was clinging onto the suspect, clinging onto the car, still fighting him, attempting to detain him. When the suspect rapidly accelerated, he dragged the deputy for a distance of approximately 150 feet," Major Sanborn stated.
Sanborn added that the deputy, who noticed the suspect was reaching under the seat for something the deputy wasn’t able to see, repeatedly told the suspect to stop the car and to stop reaching.
Eventually, the deputy was able to free his gun and fired three shots, which forced the suspect to stop his car, according to PCSO.
When the vehicle stopped, the deputy got the suspect out of the car, took him into custody and rendered aid along with other responding deputies. Sanborn says fire rescue personnel responded, but the suspect died at the scene.
Deputies say the suspect, who has not been named publicly, is a White male with an extensive criminal history with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, including 43 arrests for robbery with a firearm, burglary and multiple drug charges.
According to Sanborn, he’s also a documented gang member who was released from the Department of Corrections in October 2021.
During a press conference early Saturday morning, Sanborn thanked the agency’s partners at the FDLE and the citizens of Pasco County who frequently pray for the deputies.
"Those prayers were answered tonight as we don’t have any deputies who were injured, although it was close," Sanborn added.
FDLE will investigate the deputy-involved shooting, per a standing agreement. The deputy involved is on administrative leave, per agency protocol, during FDLE’s investigation into the shooting.
The deputy was not significantly injured during the incident.