PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, in a joint effort Sunday with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, took into custody a suspect following a stolen car and armed robbery in Lee County. It involved a high speed incident on I-75 that resulted in a crash and car fire just off I-75 Exit-167 in Port Charlotte.
LCSO issued a BOLO for the armed robbery suspect after a holdup of a Citgo station at 5179 Palm Beach Blvd, and theft of a clerk’s car. CCSO deputies stationed themselves at I-75/Exit-161 and at 9:04 a.m. observed the stolen 2003 Pontiac northbound on I-75 and attempted a traffic stop. The vehicle continued at high speed and driving erratically; deputies reported the car was speeding in excess of 120mph. CCSO deputies observed smoke and fire coming from under the rear of the vehicle that turned off and onto the Harborview Road exit and crashed into a ditch near the northbound entrance ramp. CCSO Fire Department was dispatched to extinguish the fire.
When they got to the crash site, CCSO deputies began a foot pursuit of the subject who ran toward the Hampton Point Apartments, 2511 Luther Road. A LCSO helicopter and CCSO deputies on the ground observed the suspect crawling into a drainage pipe by the apartment complex. Justin Arnulfo Ford, 30, of Wesley Chapel, was taken into custody at 10:25 a.m. after he came out of the pipe and surrendered.
Ford was transported to Peace River Regional Medical Center and was admitted to the hospital for overnight observation. Ford remains under guard and when released will be transported to the Charlotte County Jail. Charges in Charlotte County will be for Fleeing to Elude, Reckless Driving, Resisting Arrest and Driving With License Suspended or Revoked. Charges are also pending for Ford in the Lee County car theft and armed robbery. Ford also is wanted for a stolen car out of the Tampa area that he drove to Lee County and abandoned at the Citgo gas station.
Sheriff Bill Cameron said, “I am very pleased with the great joint effort between Lee County and our Charlotte County deputies that brought this incident to a safe conclusion with no injuries to the public.”