Two Lakeland men were arrested on carjacking charges Friday morning after deputies pursued a car stolen at gunpoint from a Plant City convenience store, authorities said.
The pursuit ended when the 2006 Chevrolet Malibu flipped over in a Polk County ditch, and the fleeing suspects were found hiding in a wooded area, authorities said.
Authorities arrested Khalil Holt, 19, and Raheim Johnson, 20.
The men, one with a handgun, approached 19-year-old Dakota McCormick pumping gas into his Malibu at 4:15 a.m. at the Circle K/Shell store at State Road 60 and the James L. Redman Parkway (State Road 39), the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.
“They came up with a gun,” McCormick told a 911 operator moments after the incident.
His girlfriend, Shannon Griffin, 18, was in the vehicle when the carjackers approached, according to the 911 call, which was released by the sheriff’s office.
“He pointed it (gun) at my face and they ripped my girlfriend out of the car,” McCormick told the operator. “She tried to fight them back and I ripped her out of the car because I was afraid they were going to take her.”
The suspects stole the Malibu and fired a shot from the vehicle as they drove away southbound on State Road 39, the sheriff’s office said.
A short time time later, responding deputies spotted the car on Lithia-Pinecrest Road in the FishHawk area. A deputy followed the car, allowing other deputies — including an aviation unit and K-9 — to respond.
A traffic stop was then attempted with a marked patrol car, the sheriff’s office said. The suspects did not stop and a 10-minute pursuit began that crossed into Polk, the sheriff’s office said.
The pursuit ended when the driver lost control of the Malibu and it flipped into a ditch on State Road 640, just east of Bonnie Mine Road.
The suspects exited the Malibu and ran into a heavily wooded area, deputies said. They were chased by the K-9 and other deputies, who found the men hiding about a quarter-mile from the car, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies said they found a loaded Kel-Tec 9mm semi-automatic handgun in the Mailbu.
Holt, of 921 Whitedove Drive, and Johnson, of 4056 April St. S., face charges of armed carjacking, fleeing to elude and resisting officers without violence.
Emergency responders treated one of the suspects for a minor dog bite to the leg, deputies said.
McCormick and Griffin, both of Dover, were not hurt, the sheriff’s office said.
No other injuries or property damage was reported, authorities said.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office assisted by setting up a perimeter of the search area, authorities said.
The incident is still under investigation.