LAKELAND — Three men in a speeding car fired shots at another vehicle as they passed it Saturday afternoon on Interstate 4 at Branch Forbes Road, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
No one was injured. Troopers stopped and arrested the three soon afterward at the I-4 Polk County Rest Area, about 30 miles east of the shooting scene. At least one of the guns had been stolen. Each man told troopers he had fired in self-defense.
The incident began about 3:35 p.m. as a man driving east in a Jeep Cherokee noticed an Infiniti Q50 coming up quickly behind him and nearly hitting the rear of his vehicle. The Infiniti passed him on the right, slowed, and the three men inside fired handguns, he told the Highway Patrol.
The Infiniti drove off and the victim followed until his Cherokee became disabled near the Polk County line. Six bullets had struck the car.
Another witness continued trailing the Infiniti on I-4 and troopers picked up the pursuit at State Road 33 in Lakeland. They stopped and arrested the three men at the rest area. Troopers found three handguns in the trunk of the car.
The driver, Jaquayne Deandre Davis, 24, of Orlando, and passenger Jahnoy Christovar Palmer, 21, of Tampa, face felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, firing a weapon from a moving vehicle and firing a weapon into a vehicle, as well as the misdemeanor charge of improper exhibition of a firearm.
Davis and Palmer told troopers they feared for their lives but gave different reasons, according to arrest reports. Davis said he heard shots fired, Palmer said they were nearly run off the road.
Davis said he fired once or twice, Palmer said he fired three times. The two men were being held at the Hillsborough County jail, Davis with no bail set and Palmer on $17,500 bail.
Passenger Nasir Markese Hanton, 23, of Tampa, faces a felony charge of grand theft of a firearm. The handgun he used had been reported stolen to Tampa police. Hanton said he got it from a cousin.
Hanton said he, too, fired the handgun, according to arrest reports, but he faced no charges of discharging a weapon. He was booked into the Polk County jail and released on $1,000 bail.
The Highway Patrol did not identify the Cherokee driver because of its interpretation of Marsy’s Law, a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution that was meant to protect crime victims but that deprives the public of information long available under Florida’s public records law.