Just after midnight, St. Petersburg police Officer William Vickers, 36, was headed home southbound on I-275 when he was passed by a Chrysler PT Cruiser. The officer said the car was going about 100 miles per hour, so he turned on his lights to stop the car.
When Officer Vickers reached the Dick Misener Bridge on the approach to the Sunshine Skyway, Jonchuck had pulled over.
Vickers watched as Jonchuck went around his vehicle, got the girl out of the car, and threw her over the railing. She fell 62 feet, police said, and plunged into the frigid water of Tampa Bay.
Meanwhile, multiple agencies, including St. Petersburg Fire Rescue and the U.S. Coast Guard, immediately began searching for the girl.
Divers with the Eckerd College Search and Rescue team located the girl about an hour after she was thrown into the bay. She was found a mile from the bridge.
Paramedics made attempts to revive her, and the girl was rushed to All Children's Hospital, but the rescue attempt was unsuccessful.
"We don't know if the child was alive at the time the child was thrown into the water. The officer said he thought he heard the child scream, but he is not sure. We're just waiting for the report to come back from the ME's [Medical Examiner's] Office," Chief Holloway said.
Manatee County authorities held Jonchuck, who was taken to St. Petersburg for questioning.
Chief Holloway said Jonchuck refused to talk with detectives.
He is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault on an officer, fleeing and eluding and aggravated assault with a motor vehicle on a law enforcement officer.
What events led up to the incident?
Who is John Jonchuck?
On Thursday night, Manuel Almanza and his girlfriend, Melody Dishman, family friends and former roommates of John Jonchuck, organized a candlelight vigil at their Tampa home in memory of Phoebe.