CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. — Florida Highway Patrol troopers arrested a 22-year-old Bushnell man for intentionally driving at two deputies and nearly striking several pedestrians on Sunday morning.
Citrus County deputies responded around 7:17 a.m. to a call regarding a stolen vehicle. The Sheriff's Office says someone stole a four-door, burgundy Ford pickup truck from Mountain Lake Avenue in Floral City.
Authorities received a tip two hours later where the stolen truck could be found.
Deputies immediately responded to a home on E. Muzzle Loaders Court in Inverness, where they found the truck.
The home's occupant granted permission for a search of the property. As deputies made their way behind the house, they spotted Travis Lovett inside the truck.
The Sheriff's Office says Lovett saw the deputies and attempted to leave the area.
According to the arrest report, he deliberately drove the truck at one deputy, who jumped out of the way to avoid being hit. Authorities say during the ensuing high-speed pursuit, Lovett intentionally accelerated at another deputy, who drove off the road to avoid a collision.
The Sheriff's Office says Lovett attempted to lose the deputies following him by driving in the opposite lanes of traffic through Inverness and Floral City. At one point, officials say Lovett even drove down the Rails to Trails recreational trail where he almost struck several pedestrians.
The Florida Highway Patrol joined the pursuit after it entered Hernando County, where authorities say he fired at deputies. One bullet struck a trooper's front windshield.
The pursuit continued into Sumter County where troopers performed a P.I.T. maneuver on the truck, causing it to flip several times.
Lovett was ejected from the truck while it flipped. Paramedics flew him to a local hospital. His condition was not released.
"Incidents like this are always extremely dangerous. We try to use every precaution possible when we respond to these types of incidents," said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast. "When we have a suspect who is hell-bent on avoiding all contact with law enforcement, their behavior becomes unpredictable and erratic. They will risk their life, the lives of innocent citizens, and the lives of all our law enforcement deputies."
Lovett will be charged in Citrus County with two counts of Aggravated Assault and one count of Aggravated Flee/Elude Law Enforcement. Additional charges in other jurisdictions are pending.
This is not the 22-year-old's first encounter with law enforcement in a stolen vehicle.
Lovett was arrested in January 2019 for Reckless Driving and Fleeing to Elude after he allegedly led deputies and troopers on a high-speed chase through multiple counties.