POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A man and a woman riding on motorcycles were shot on I-4 in Polk County early Friday morning. The woman died later t the hospital on Saturday.
Deputies responded just after midnight to what was initially reported as a single-vehicle motorcycle crash on I-4 eastbound near the US 27 overpass.
During a press conference, Sheriff Grady Judd said preliminary information indicated that 38-year-old Ronald Donovan, a member of the Sin City Deciples Motorcycle Club, along with at least two other motorcyclists, were heading toward Orlando on I-4 when two Thug Riders, a different motorcycle gang, drove past him. Sheriff Judd said, "then there was some skirmishing and some driving about 100 mph," which lead to Donovan shooting at one of the Thug Riders.
The 36-year-old Hispanic male, who Donovan shot, told deputies he felt the sharp pain in his back and immediately fired back. According to Judd, his bullet struck a 33-year-old woman, who was sitting behind Donovan, in the head.
"She's going to die, " Sheriff Judd said. "She's not dead yet, but she is mortally wounded, according to the information that we received from the hospital, it is a through and through wound just above the ear and comes out the other side."
Judd said after being shot, the woman fell off the motorcycle and Ronald stopped. Judd added that Ronald and the woman have been friends for nearly 10 years.
At that time, the man Donovan shot, drove to Champions Gate and stopped at a Papa John's where he called 9-1-1 and told them he had been shot on the interstate.
Deputies, per Sheriff Judd, were sent to both locations where they determined it was not a motorcycle crash as they initially believed.
"We have witnesses that said they were wearing gang colors, but by the time we arrived they were not only not wearing their gang colors, their gang colors weren't there," Sheriff Judd said. "Ronald had two empty gun holsters when he was taken into custody, but there were no firearms around. Just as deputies were arriving, they saw a motorcycle leave the scene and we suspect the person on that motorcycle may have the gang colors and/or the firearms."
At this time, Sheriff Judd said it appears as though the man Donovan shot in the back was acting in self-defense.
"Now keep in mind...when we are trying to determine what happened, he (Donovan) says, 'I know my rights, I don't have to talk to you, I take the fifth.' Dude, your girlfriend is just shot off the back of your motorcycle, is in extremely critical condition, and you won't cooperate to tell us what happened. 'I know my rights,' well he needs his rights."
Donovan was arrested on the scene for the following charges:
- Battery on an officer
- Resisting arrest with violence
- Second-degree felony murder
- Attempted first-degree murder on the 36-year-old man he shot
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
Interstate 4 eastbound was shut down to through traffic at CR557 at about 3:30 a.m. and all three eastbound lanes reopened to travel around 9:30 a.m.
"We had bullet cases from three different firearms scattered over a half-mile," Judd said.
Sheriff Judd said he hopes to have a wrap-up on the shooting on Monday.