Following chase, deputy claims suspect's gun found loaded and ready to shoot

SPRING HILL, Fla. - Deputy Tony Aguiar spotted the yellow Chevrolet early Tuesday morning, driving on Deltona Boulevard in Spring Hill.

"I noticed it didn't have a license plate,"  Dep. Aguiar said. "I turned my lights and my sirens on. Immediately the vehicle fled from me."

The car reached speeds close to 100 mph on a road with two schools when Aguiar called off the pursuit. The man kept driving, racing through front yards, knocking down a stop sign, finally crashing into a tree.

"Gave him verbal commands to get on the ground and show me his hands," Dep. Aguiar explained.

The man complied, Dep. Aguiar said, pointing to his pregnant girlfriend in the passenger seat.

"We had no idea who was behind the wheel," said Cpl. Wendy McGinnis.

They soon found out.

Benito Cuevas, 32, who deputies call a convicted felon, had four active warrants in Pasco County.

They believe he also had a gun, found nearby -- loaded, cocked, a trigger pull away from firing.

"I immediately thought, what if he'd stopped and shot at me, then fled away?" Dep. Aguiar said. "Kind of took my breath away."

Cuevas faces multiple charges, including fleeing an officer and carrying a gun while committing a felony.

"We have one goal in mind each and every night and that's to go home safely to our families," Cpl. McGinnis said.

Aguiar trained with fallen Hernando County Deputy John Mecklenburg, killed in a pursuit last year.

He'd also just returned from the funeral of Brevard County Deputy Barbara Pill, fatally shot a couple weeks ago.

"Sometimes to feel like you've survived when everyone around you is dying," Dep. Aguiar said. "There's absolutely nothing I did differently from anybody else. I just made it."

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