Suspected drug dealers pull gun on undercover deputy during drug transaction outside restaurant

Posted at 6:27 PM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2017-02-09 21:27:38-05

UPDATE | 2.9.17 (5:50 p.m.):

The second suspect in the December 6th shootout has been arrested.

Deputies say they shot 20-year-old Luis Gutierrez three times, once in the head back in December. He was arrested at his home in Ruskin early Thursday morning.

An arrest warrant obtained by ABC Action News is shedding light on the incident.

According to the warrant, an undercover detective was trying to buy a large amount of cocaine from Gutierrez and 19-year-old Efren Esparza-Lopez. The detective was leaning into their car when Esparza-Lopez grabbed the detective's arm, pulled out a gun and tried to grab money from his hand. The detective managed to free himself and back away as other deputies responded.

The warrant says Esparza-Lopez shot at deputies and detectives as Gutierrez drove.

Gutierrez is accused of ramming an unmarked sheriff's office SUV, before driving off and eventually crashing.

Esparza-Lopez is accused of shooting at a marked responding Sheriff's Office squad car while they were fleeing.

The warrant also says Esparza-Lopez told detectives that they had planned the robbery. He also says he knew the undercover detective was a cop before they committed the robbery.


UPDATE | 12:30 p.m. |

The first suspect has been identified as Efren Esparza-Lopez.  He was treated and released from the hospital and booked into the Orient Road Jail Wednesday morning.

His charges include four counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

The second suspect is still at the hospital with life threatening injuries.



An undercover drug bust ended in a hail of gunfire in between two very busy fast food restaurants in Sun City Center.

"One of the individuals in the car pulled a gun on the deputy pointed at him and attempted to rob him," Col. Donna Lusczynski said. 

When the other deputies heard that one of the suspected drug dealers had a gun they moved in. Their undercover SUV immediately came under fire.

"Our deputies were extremely lucky," Lusczynski said. "You can see bullet holes in the passenger door of the vehicle where one of the detectives exited the vehicle and was standing.  It's truly a miracle he wasn't hit."

The incident happened in between the Wendy's and Denny's on Sun City Center Boulevard.

After ramming the SUV the suspects fled in their car firing at responding marked patrol cars. At least one other sheriff's department vehicle was hit with gunfire. A few miles down the road the deputies stopped the suspect's vehicle and took one man into custody, another was arrested a few hours later at a hospital in Brandon.

The shooting happened before the dinner rush, but there were a lot of people in the area.

Investigators said public places are not ideal for drug deals, but "unfortunately this is where drug dealers conduct most of their deals," Lusczynsk said. "They come out into busy areas because they want to make sure there are other people around as well, and the police aren't driving through. It's not infrequent for drug dealers to rob one another."

One suspect is in critical condition and the other has non-life threatening injuries.

No deputies were injured.

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