POLK COUNTY, Fla — Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says a man is in the hospital after a deputy was forced to shoot him.
According to the sheriff, on Saturday, February 26, an armed-robbery suspect was arrested after being shot by a PCSO sergeant on State Road 540 near Winter Haven.
The suspect was identified as Matthew Correa 27.
No deputies were injured, and the suspect is being treated at a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Sheriff Judd says around 8:44 a.m, a couple stole a car and then pulled up at the Ramirez Tires store at 5108 Spirit Lake Road near Winter Haven.
Correa and the female went into the store and asked an employee for money, but the employee said there was no money. Correa then allegedly pulled a rifle out of a duffle bag, closed the door to the office, pointed the gun toward the employee, and began looking for money.
A customer arrived at the store, so Correa and the woman left. While deputies were searching for the suspects, the stolen red truck was spotted driving southbound on US 17 near Cypress Gardens Boulevard.
Deputies attempted to stop the vehicle in the vicinity of SR 540, and made two unsuccessful attempts at disabling the vehicle with stop-sticks, and Correa intentionally tried to hit one of the deputies with the truck.
Correa then entered the eastbound lane of SR 540 and deputies were able to surround the truck and force it to stop.
Deputies said that while still in the truck, Correa pointed the rifle under his chin and told deputies multiple times to kill him. Deputies then attempted to deescalate.
Correa then stood up with a rifle in one hand, and a Busch Light beer bottle in the other, which he smashed against his forehead, breaking the bottle.
The sergeant who was behind Correa and unable to see the bottle, heard the popping noise and believed Correa had shot at his deputies.
The Sergeant fired one shot at Correa, striking him in the neck. Correa fell into the vehicle and dropped the rifle.
"Thank God none of our deputies were injured today. The suspect made several bad choices this morning, including the choice that forced our sergeant to shoot him. We still need help trying to determine who the white female suspect is and where she was left. She was not present during the traffic stop and shooting." - Grady Judd, Sheriff
Anyone who has any information regarding the white female's identity and/or whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 863-298-6200 or Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS.
The sheriff said Matthew Correa has a prior criminal history of three felonies, including a home invasion burglary, and spent five years in state prison.