DUNEDIN — Three people are facing attempted murder charges after they shot into a vehicle on U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor early Monday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
No one was injured in the shooting, which deputies are calling a road rage incident.
Officials say an on-duty patrol deputy was traveling west on Tampa Road approaching Arbor Glenn Drive in Palm Harbor about 2:20 a.m. when he saw a blue Ford Focus speeding east on Tampa Road.
As the deputy started to make a U-turn to pursue the Ford, the car abruptly stopped. The driver of the Focus, 21-year-old Dusty Smith, told the deputy he and his two passengers — 24-year-old Danny R. Ford and 20-year-old Stephanie L. Storm — were being chased and shot at by people in a white Chevrolet Lumina.
As Smith told his story to the deputy, the Lumina passed by eastbound on Tampa Road, then quickly turned south on Arbor Glenn Drive, reports say.
The deputy called for help, and responding deputies pulled over the Lumina, driven by 19-year-old Amanda McElmurray of 7290 S Gilbert Ter. in Lecanto, at Solon Avenue and Belcher Road in Dunedin. Benjamin D. Ducharme, 36, of 3741 Cracker Lane in Homosassa, was the shooter and riding in the front, deputies say. Steven A. LeBlanc, 31, of 15011 Old Stagecoach Road in Brooksville, was riding in the back, reports say.
Deputies say Ducharme admitted to shooting at the Focus and owning the .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun used in the shooting, which deputies found in the Lumina. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder and carrying a concealed firearm.
McElmurray, the driver, was arrested and charged with attempted murder. LeBlanc, the rear passenger, also was arrested and charged with attempted murder because deputies say he knew what was about to occur. He also was charged with carrying a concealed weapon — a knife.
The incident remains under investigation.
Late Monday morning, all three were being held in the Pinellas County Jail. Ducharme's bail was $120,000. LeBlanc's was $100,500 and McElmurray's was $100,000.