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Gun battle between motorcycle gangs on Interstate 4 leaves 1 dead, 1 injured

Polk County Sheriff’s officials said a woman and a man were shot early Friday.
Polk Sheriff Grady Judd briefs the media about shootings on Interstate 4. Ronald Donovan, whose photo is shown, faces multiple charges in the incident.
Polk Sheriff Grady Judd briefs the media about shootings on Interstate 4. Ronald Donovan, whose photo is shown, faces multiple charges in the incident. [ Facebook ]
Published Oct. 8
Updated Oct. 9

Two people on motorcycles were shot on Interstate 4 early Friday during a gun battle between members of two motorcycle gangs, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

A woman who was riding on the back of one motorcycle was shot in the head and thrown from the bike, Judd said. She died Friday, the Sheriff’s office announced Saturday.

A second motorcyclist was shot in the back.

The incident occurred just after midnight in the eastbound lanes of I-4 just west of U.S. 27. Judd said 38-year-old Ronald Donovan was driving a motorcycle and that his 33-year-old girlfriend was riding with him.

Judd said Donovan is in the motorcycle gang Sin City Deciples. A member of another motorcycle gang, the Thug Riders, passed him and Donovan fired and hit the man, who is 36, in the back.

The man returned fire and hit Donovan’s girlfriend in the head. Judd said he believed that the man was acting in self-defense. He did not identify him.

The man went to a nearby pizza place and called 911. Meanwhile, deputies were summoned to the scene of the shooting and found Donovan’s girlfriend gravely injured. Her name was not released Friday.

Related: An Outlaws motorcycle club leader’s assassination adds to Tampa Bay’s bloody biker gang history

Judd said Donovan refused to speak to deputies. He is facing charges of second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and other charges. Donovan was being held Friday without bail.

Judd said Donovan was traveling from Tampa to the Orlando area when the shootout occurred. Sheriff’s officials said Donovan and his girlfriend are from Brevard County, as is his girlfriend.

Judd likened the incident to an Old West shootout. He said bullet casings from three guns were scattered over a half-mile. He described it as a “driving, riding gun battle” at speeds of more than 100 mph.

“The outlaws instead of being on horses were on motorcycles,” he said.

I-4 was shut for several hours while deputies investigated. Judd said there are no reports of anyone else being injured.

“The good news is there’s no one at large, there’s no random shooter out here,” Judd said.

Florida and the Tampa Bay area have a history of motorcycle gangs, though Judd said they usually don’t cause too much trouble in Polk County.

“There’s lots of little independent gangs,” he said “Fortunately they behave most of the time and they don’t come to our attention.”

Judd talked about the incident in a Facebook Live that you can watch:

(If you can’t see the video player, click here.)