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Apopka Police apprehend fleeing Carjacking Suspect


The Apopka Police Department responded to a carjacking call on Orange Blossom Trail yesterday. By its conclusion, it involved over a dozen APD officers including a Captain, a fleeing suspect firing a shot at officers, members of the APD drawing weapons, pursuit of a dangerous suspect both in vehicles and on foot, and the apprehension and arrest of the suspect.

It was quite a dramatic event, but the truly remarkable takeaway from this incident was the length of time it took from the time of the call until the arrest.

Jeremiah Johnson Jeremiah Johnson

According to APD reports, it all began around 1:30 yesterday afternoon…

Kenneth Franklin and James Matesevac were standing outside of the Surplus Warehouse on South Orange Blossom Trail. Franklin sat down in his Silver Toyota Camry and started the engine when suddenly a man wearing a mask and carrying a pistol approached them. He ordered Franklin out of the car and Matesevac to back up. Both men complied with the order and the masked gunman entered the vehicle. In his haste, he struck a concrete pole before he fled the scene.

Three minutes after the call, APD officers responded.

In route, Corporal Reagan Rizo observed the vehicle less than a half-mile from the scene at Alabama and 6th Street being driven by a black male with a white T-shirt over his head as he passed. Rizo attempted to stop the vehicle, which fled at a high rate of speed. Rizo gave pursuit, but terminated it a short time later due to the reckless nature of the suspect's driving.

APD K-9 Officer Paul Rehn was in the area of the vehicle pursuit, and was advised by a person on the roadway that the vehicle was seen in the area of the Bike Trail and 13th Street. Quickly thereafter the Florida Highway Patrol advised another officer that the vehicle was observed going west on Cleveland Street. Multiple units arrived in the area. APD officers located the vehicle abandoned in the wood line of 1900 S. Hawthorne Ave.

The vehicle was unoccupied, and a perimeter was quickly established around the woods where the vehicle was located.

APD Sergeant Kim Walsh, assisted in setting up the perimeter and observed the subject continuing east across Long Lane pushing a child's bike with training wheels. She noticed he was breathing hard and sweating profusely. He glanced at her patrol vehicle and looked away continuing to walk away. Walsh exited her vehicle and called out for him to stop. He continued walking away pushing the bike. She told him to stop again. Instead, the suspect threw the bike to the ground and ran through a side yard on Long Lane. Walsh pursued him on foot. During this time a home owner on Long Lane came out of a house and told Walsh ‘He ran through the back yard and jumped over the chain link fence! He fell!’

Walsh lost sight of the subject, but continued through the open yard advising other units on her radio of the continued flight and direction of the suspect.

After shaking Walsh, the suspect continued east and crossed South Washington Avenue in front of APD Captain Randall Fernandez's vehicle. Fernandez exited his unmarked patrol car and pursued the subject on foot. During this time Rehn was approaching in his marked patrol vehicle. While the subject was fleeing he fired a round from his handgun.

Fernandez got behind Rehn's vehicle as Rehn continued to chase the subject. The subject then turned back towards Rehn's vehicle, pointed the handgun at Rehn and Fernandez, and then fled into a woodline.

Rehn stopped his patrol vehicle and exited it with his K-9. Both Fernandez and Rehn had drawn their weapons before pursuing with the aide of Rehn's K-9 officer. Moments later the suspect was taken into custody by Lt. Kennedy.

Before 2:00 PM, the suspect had been arrested. The entire incident officially took 24 minutes according to APD reports. Fernandez praised the APD for its performance under dangerous conditions.

"The response time shows tremendous teamwork," said Fernandez."We like to serve the citizens of Apopka and be responsive when it comes to taking a bad guy off the streets."

Fernandez is one of three captains at the APD, which makes them effectively second-in-command. So what is a high-ranking officer doing in the middle of a dangerous pursuit call?

"When a big call comes in, we all answer it," said Fernandez. "I happened to be at the right place at the right time. We all have our roles, but we are all police officers. We’re all cops at heart.”

Once at the Apopka Police Department, the subject was identified as Jeremiah Johnson, 23 of Apopka. He is being charged with Armed Carjacking, three counts of Aggravated Assault with a firearm, Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer and Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding.

Johnson is currently in the Orange County Jail.


Apopka Police Department, Car-Jacking


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