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Crime & Courts

Hillsborough deputies shoot wanted man at gas pump


Published:   |   Updated: August 28, 2013 at 08:01 AM

TAMPA — A man who had 46 felony charges in his past was shot in the chest Tuesday afternoon while deputies were trying to arrest him yet again.

Deputies shot Justin Bryant, 25, of Plant City when he accelerated toward them in a stolen Lincoln Navigator, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Three deputies had been following Bryant and were trying to arrest him at a Racetrac convenience store at County Road 579 and East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Mango.

Bryant was taken by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital with a single bullet wound to the chest. His condition was stable, the sheriff's office said.

The shooting happened about 3:15 p.m. when Bryant pulled the Navigator up to pump 14 at the convenience station. According to the sheriff's office, Deputies Patrick Saunders, 38, and William Hyatt, 35, ordered Bryant to get out of the car, but he ignored them, said sheriff's office spokeswoman Cristal Bermudez Nuñez. Instead, he turned the wheels sharply to the right and suddenly accelerated, she said.

Hyatt dove out of the way and moved a witness to safety. Saunders moved away from the vehicle as it approached and fired two shots at Bryant, Bermudez Nuñez said.

Deputy Jeff Fender, who was also at the scene, fired one shot at Bryant, Bermudez Nuñez said.

Bryant was hit once. The Navigator came to a stop against a concrete pole placed at the end of pump 19. Blood stains were visible on the ground near the vehicle.

Neither deputy was injured. Under department policy, both Saunders and Fender, 48, will be placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is reviewed, Bermudez Nuñez said.

Bermudez Nuñez said Bryant had 46 felony arrests in his past. Deputies had been following him because he was wanted for multiple grand theft charges and they had a tip he would be in the area, she said.

In addition to the grand theft charges, Bryant will face two charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a motor vehicle, Bermudez Nuñez said.

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