CLEARWATER — Police officers and sheriff's deputies swarmed downtown Tuesday night as they searched for a man accused of carjacking a pickup truck and crashing it into two buildings.
The search — which involved a helicopter, police dogs and numerous patrol cars — centered on the area of town around S Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Pierce Street, where the second crash occurred.
Police said that about 9 p.m., 44-year-old Larry Donell Jones approached a 17-year-old boy who was driving his pickup in the 600 block of Spruce Street.
Jones asked the boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, whether he could talk to him for a minute, police said. That's when Jones jumped into the victim's vehicle and brandished a handgun, police said.
The boy fought Jones for possession of the gun, police said. The fight ended, according to an arrest report, when the victim hit Jones in the face, knocking him to the ground. The victim then ran away and told authorities he had been carjacked.
Meanwhile, police said, Jones took off in the pickup, crashing it into a building at 513 N Garden Ave. He kept going and was spotted by police traveling south on Pennsylvania Avenue. He crashed into the AAMCO Transmission shop at 201 S Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. and took off.
A female passenger in the vehicle was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg as a precaution. Police have not said whether or how she is involved in the incident.
Police dogs tracked Jones to 1123 Gould St., where he was found hiding on the roof. He was taken to Morton Plant Hospital for treatment.
Jones remained in the Pinellas County Jail on Wednesday in lieu of $120,500 bail. He faces charges of armed carjacking, leaving the scene of a crash with injuries, fleeing and eluding, and resisting arrest without violence.
Jonathan Abel can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4157.