Would-be carjacker killed outside Publix in Sun City Center

Image 1 of 4

A suspected carjacker was shot and killed by a hearing aid store manager in a Sun City Center shopping plaza this morning.

Deputies say the suspect – armed with a semi-automatic handgun – attempted at least four carjackings outside the Publix along Sun City Center Boulevard just after 9 a.m., but all of the drivers had their doors locked. 

A witness told FOX 13 News she saw a young black man in a white turban attempt to carjack someone. 

“All I know is he was pretty desperate to get in someone’s car,” Debra Smith offered.

The suspect then tried to get inside some of the businesses in the plaza, but they also locked their doors and some even held them closed by sheer force.

Moments later, Sheriff Chad Chronister said, the manager of an Audibel hearing aid store confronted the suspect after the gunman made his way behind the store.

“Some type of exchange or altercation does occur,” the sheriff explained. “The supervisor of the business, who possessed a firearm legally, discharged his firearm and struck the suspect in the upper body.”

The suspect later died at South Bay Hospital.  Deputies have not publicly named him, but say he had at least 10 prior felony arrests – all drug-related.

It was not clear yet if the suspect fired any shots during the final altercation. Deputies were still combing through the scene and they expect to review surveillance footage from the stores in the plaza as part of the investigation. 

The Audibel Hearing Center owner described his employee as level-headed and said he would not have fired unless his life depended on it.

"I can't imagine taking somebody's life. I mean, you have to live with that forever," Mike Wheeler offered. "Even the victim, I don't know what his story was, but I'm sure he didn't excpect to die today."

Deputies also credited a Coca-Cola delivery driver with pulling in between the suspect and potential victims, shielding them with his truck.

“Thank God no one here in the great community of Sun City Center was injured,” Sheriff Chronister added.