Citrus County deputies shot and killed a 33-year-old man in Marion County after he fled from a traffic stop and exited his car with a rifle after a two-county chase, the sheriff’s office said in a news release Friday.
Deputies tried to stop a Mitsubishi SUV driven by Skyler Wentworth of Titusville, suspected of a felony warrant in Hernando, the release said. Wentworth threw a black bag holding pills that later tested positive for fentanyl from his vehicle, according to officials.
The sheriff’s office said the deputies initially called off the chase when they spotted a female passenger and a child in distress trying to leave the car. They started the chase again, they said, when Wentworth slowed the car and let the woman and child get out.
Deputies used a tire deflation device twice. The first attempt was unsuccessful, and the second attempt slowed the car down. Still, the sheriff’s office said, Wentworth kept driving on Highway 200 into Marion County.
Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies joined the chase and used a precision immobilization technique, or PIT maneuver, which involves an officer bumping the fleeing car and causing it to spin out to a stop. Wentworth’s car crashed into a power pole.
Ten miles into the chase, Wentworth got out of the car with a rifle, the sheriff’s office said. Citrus County deputies fired at and injured Wentworth, who was taken to a hospital. He later died from his injuries.
“Wentworth is no stranger to our deputies; he is registered as a career criminal and has an extensive drug-related criminal history in our county,” said Col. Elena Vitt. “None of our deputies ever want to use lethal force, but they are prepared to if it means saving countless others.”
The incident is under investigation.