One officer was taken to the hospital with “serious” injuries when wanted suspects hit him and two police vehicles on Wednesday morning.
An attempt to serve a warrant Wednesday morning resulted in one Plant City Police Department detective getting seriously injured.
Two undercover detectives conducted vehicle surveillance to apprehend a female suspect with several felony warrants, which include kidnapping, and located the suspect’s silver Toyota truck at approximately 11:01 a.m. They followed the truck to the United Food Store at 1506 Sammonds Road and attempted a traffic stop, but the driver proceeded to ram both vehicles and charged directly at one of the detectives. Both opened fire on the truck in an attempt to stop it, but Sgt. Al Van Duyne said the suspect, who had a passenger, still drove over the officer and caused serious injury in the getaway.
The other detective at the scene stayed with the injured officer and called for help, while the suspects ditched the truck near the 4000 block of Cooper Road and stole a blue 1990 Toyota Tacoma with Florida tag 702 5TP. The incident happened during the funeral for fallen Lakeland officer Paul Dunn.
“It’s really sad that we have to leave a funeral for a fallen officer for foolishness such as this,” Van Duyne said in an afternoon press conference. “But, be clear: we will get the parties responsible for this.”
The names of the detectives involved have not yet been released. The injured detective, a five-year veteran of the police force was transported to Lakeland Regional Hospital. Plant City Police said Wednesday evening that the injured officer’s condition had been upgraded to stable and that he suffered “several internal injuries and multiple fractures.” The uninjured detective has been with PCPD for 13 years.
Deputies investigated a shooting incident on Bailey Road in Mulberry believed to be connected to the Plant City incident.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Wednesday afternoon the suspects were last seen fleeing northbound on Cooper Road.
According to an HCSO news release, the owner of the stolen blue Toyota reported a male and a female knocked at his door, pointed a gun at him and demanded he hand over the keys to his truck. The resident was not harmed. HCSO said the suspects were located in Polk County and shot by PCSO deputies.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the male suspect, Aaron Phillips, was shot and killed by Polk County deputies. The female suspect, April Thompson, was hit by gunfire twice — once in Plant City and once in Polk County — and she was transported to the hospital. No Polk County deputies were injured.
Update 11:36 a.m. Jan. 17: Polk County Sheriff’s Office released Thompson’s affidavit on Friday morning.
Per the affidavit, Thompson and Phillips were in the silver Toyota in Plant City when PCPD detectives attempted a traffic stop. Thompson was driving the truck and noticed “guys with guns,” at which point Phillips told her to “go, go, go.” Thompson backed up into one of the PCPD vehicles and, additionally, ran over a law enforcement officer who was on scene. The suspects ditched the truck and hid in a wooded area. Phillips went to find another vehicle while Thompson, who had been shot, stayed behind.
When the pair got to Mulberry, they tried to enter a residence but were asked to leave by its owner. Two subjects driving a black Volkswagen arrived to the residence as Thompson and Phillips were leaving. Phillips asked them for a ride because Thompson had been shot and they needed to leave. When the request was denied, Phillips placed Thompson in the back of the vehicle and then, according to the owner of the vehicle, pointed a handgun at her following a verbal altercation.
Deputy Andre Jackson, who was nearby looking for Thompson, heard the verbal altercation, approached and recognized her in the back seat. Jackson attempted to take Thompson into custody as Phillips walked away from the vehicle, ignoring Jackson’s commands. Witnesses said Phillips tried to conceal the handgun from Jackson, snatched the keys from the other subject who arrived in the Volkswagen and started the car. Jackson and Phillips struggled through the driver’s door window as the vehicle rolled backward. Thompson had reentered the car and was in the passenger seat. Phillips ignored Jackson’s commands to stop and reached for the floorboard. That move, plus a witness announcing Phillips was armed, led Jackson to believe his life was in danger. Jackson shot Phillips, the Volkswagen rolled into Jackson’s vehicle and Thompson attempted to flee the scene on foot.
Jackson caught Thompson and took her into custody. Phillips died at the scene.
Thompson is being charged with one count of second degree felony murder, one count of armed burglary of a conveyance and two counts of robbery with a firearm.