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Armed carjacking suspect who shot at sheriff's helicopter in custody, Polk deputies say

Armed carjacker who shot at helicopter in custody
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jun 23, 2016
UPDATE: Polk County sheriff's deputies have a suspect in custody believed to be the carjacker who shot at a sheriff's helicopter in Lake Wales early this week.
 
He was arrested shortly after 9 a.m. today, Polk County sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Horstman said in a statement.
 
Stay with WFTS.com for updates.
 
Original story  Carjacker shoots at helicopter, still on the run
 
Wesley Thomas Grace, 31, has been identified as the suspect who shot at the PCSO Helicopter on Thursday, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
 
Grace currently has pending charges for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill, use/display a firearm during a felony offense and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
 
Anyone with any information as to where Grace can be located is asked to contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 863-298-6200. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a $3,000 cash reward, please contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477 or click on our "Give-A-Tip" tab.
 
 
ORIGINAL STORY:
Polk County deputies have called off an intense search for an armed carjacking suspect who fired shots at a sheriff’s helicopter.
 
Deputies had set up a perimeter near Mammoth Grove Road and S.R. 60 in Lake Wales in attempt to take him into custody, but to no avail.
 
 
Several agencies worked this case, including the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Bartow Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, and Lake Wales Police Department. At one point, there were 50 to 100 law enforcement agents, searching hundreds and hundred of acres of the orange grove next to the Saddlebag Lake Resort.
 
The carjacking occurred about 3 p.m. in Bartow. The suspect is accused of stealing a white Chevrolet 5500 dump truck. 
 
According to Bartow Police Department, the suspect stole the truck in the area of Bay Street and Seventh Avenue while its driver checked the vehicle’s load.
 
The driver’s coworkers followed the truck, but the suspect pointed a gun at one them and kept driving.
 
Deputies followed the dump truck east on S.R. 60 to the Mammoth Grove Road area.
 
Michael Hurd, who lives in Lake Wales, saw the suspect run through his yard. He says he tore through the neighborhood, leaving deep tracks, narrowly missing a child's tricycle and toys.
 
"Luckily, the lady had just left with her child," Hurd said.
 
Then, he saw the man driving the dump truck disappear into the nearby orange groves. Then he heard a series of gunshots, he said.
 
"It was like pow, pow, pow!"
 
The suspect had stopped and fired shots the sheriff’s helicopter following the truck.
 
"He's driving around yards and stuff," the pilot, Rob Gray, 40, says in a recording of radio traffic among law enforcement. "Be careful."
 
Gray says he can see the suspect reach in his waistband. He then sees the flash of gunshots.
 
"He's shooting at me," he says.
 
Deputies told people nearby to stay inside their homes and protect themselves. Residents are being warned to stay vigilant and call 911 if they see anything suspicious.
 
"He is considered extremely armed and dangerous. Folks should stay in their homes. (They should) protect themselves (and) keep their doors locked," Polk County Sheriff's Office Chief of Staff Steve Lester said.
 
They do not know who the suspect is or anyone who knows him. The only description given to them was by the people in Bartow, during the armed carjacking. They said he was wearing a bright red shirt. He's believed to be in his late 20s to early 30s. He is a white male and medium build.
 
Listen to the full radio traffic recording below
 
 
The stolen commercial truck was recovered in the Mammoth Grove Road area north of SR 60 in Lake Wales, according to police.
 
If you see something suspicious, please contact PCSO immediately by dialing 9-1-1, or 863-298-6200 with any other tips.