PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- Punta Gorda Police arrested John Thomas Burns, 68, after a brief vehicle pursuit ended in a crash early Sunday morning.
A verbal altercation between Burns and several pedestrians occurred when they confronted him about urinating in public near the Wyvern hotel. Witnesses stated that Burns threatened them during the confrontation by stating “would you like a .45 in the chest” and began scouring through the center console of his Toyota 4-door.
At this time, the witnesses took cover and immediately contacted the Punta Gorda Police. Witnesses further stated that Burns observed them on their phone and fled the scene heading northbound over the US 41 bridge. Two Punta Gorda officers were on a traffic stop on the north side of the bridge near the intersection of US 41 and Melbourne Street, and immediately located the vehicle as it entered Port Charlotte.
They attempted to conduct a traffic stop, but Burns accelerated to speeds estimated over 100 mph as he attempted to flee. Burns subsequently crashed into a ditch near the intersection of Hancock Boulevard and US 41, approximately one minute after the pursuit was initiated.
Once Burn’s vehicle came to a stop, he refused to show officers his hands and was observed throwing something back into the car. Burns resisted being restrained, however officers were able to take him into custody. A search of the vehicle yielded a loaded .45 caliber Glock 21 handgun on the driver’s side floorboard. After being questioned, Burns told officers he was “thinking about shooting the officers.”
Burns admitted to have been drinking and under the influence of several controlled substances. However, he refused to provide a test of his breath to determine alcohol content. Burns was charged with Fleeing to Elude (High Speed/Reckless), DUI (second offense), and Resisting Arrest Without Violence. There potentially may be additional charges sought in regard to the threats made against the witnesses.