INDIAN SHORES — A city police officer fired his weapon at a vehicle just before it knocked him to the ground early Tuesday morning, Indian Shores Police Chief Terry Hughes said.
The driver was captured after an intense manhunt and now faces a charge of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, authorities said. Indian Shores police Officer Matthew Holm, 32, was hospitalized with non life-threatening injuries.
The incident took place at about 3:15 a.m. in front of 19540 Gulf Boulevard, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Holm saw two vehicles — a 2017 Nissan Altima and a 2013 Mazda 3 — driving faster than 70 mph, the chief said. That is more than twice the posted speed limit of 30 mph.
They were going so fast, Hughes said at a news conference after the incident, that Holm "actually thought they were drag racing."
Holm managed to pull over the Nissan, driven by Brittney Mikus, 28, of Cheswick, Penn., the Sheriff's Office said. He stopped his cruiser behind that car, stepped out and motioned for the Mazda to pull over, too. The Mazda was driven by Stephan J. Weekley, 42, of St. Petersburg, deputies said.
The Mazda initially slowed down, the Sheriff's Office said, then accelerated toward the officer.
Holm fired his gun once toward the Mazda before it hit him, "putting him on the ground," the chief said. Holm fired more shots as the vehicle sped away. Deputies said he fired four shots total.
Holm radioed for help and relayed a description of the vehicle. Backup officers found him lying on the side of the road. He was taken to Largo Medical Center for treatment.
Weekley continued north and got by deputies trying to stop the Mazda by using a Stop Stick to puncture the tires. But Weekley kept going. Eventually, deputies found the abandoned Mazda near 1115 Hidden Harbor Drive.
The sheriff's dogs and helicopter tracked him down about an hour later, deputies said, as he hid in mangroves near the Indian Rocks Nature Preserve.
Mikus stayed at the scene and was questioned, Hughes said, then released. The chief said he asked the Sheriff's Office to conduct the investigation "to keep everything unbiased and above board."
Holm, who has been with the Indian Shores Police Department for three years, was placed on administrative leave pending completion of the investigation. Weekley was booked into the Pinellas County jail.
Times staff writer Devin Rodriguez contributed to this report.