Pasco deputies seek fugitive who crashed into sheriff's cruiser

Published Nov. 11, 2012

MOON LAKE — At the age of 24, Anthony Batta has been arrested more than 50 times, authorities said. They classified him as a gang member, and he has already been to prison twice. His body is covered in tattoos, including one across his belly that reads "infamous."

Now Batta is on the run, and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said it needs the public's help finding him.

The agency said Batta led a deputy on a high-speed chase through a maze of residential streets Saturday morning, then turned 180 degrees around, rammed the deputy's cruiser, sped away and fled on foot.

The Sheriff's Office said the incident began at about 8:30 a.m. when Deputy David Riffe spotted a 2002 maroon Toyota Tundra as it turned east on Alemedo Avenue from Berwyn Street, a short dirt strip in the heavily wooded area.

The truck had been reported stolen out of Citrus County, officials said. Batta, whose license is suspended, was driving the truck, deputies said.

As Riffe attempted to pull the truck over, the Sheriff's Office said, Batta turned right down Jungle Street, speeding down the unpaved road before turning left onto the paved Catalona Avenue.

The truck's tires were losing traction and spinning against the pavement, deputies said. Batta then turned north on Gilmer Street, a dead end. He rode to the end of the street, deputies said, slipped into the woods, circled a tree and then headed south.

Riffe, who was following close behind, followed Batta into the dead end, deputies said. After Batta whipped the pickup around, he aimed it at the deputy and rammed the cruiser, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Batta then sped to the area of 12544 Catalona Ave., deputies said, where he abandoned the truck and fled on foot.

Riffe received medical treatment for minor injuries he suffered in the crash, deputies said. Meanwhile, Batta remained on the run late Saturday. He is wanted on charges in connection with the incident, including fleeing and eluding and leaving the scene of an accident with injury, deputies said.

The young fugitive's lengthy criminal history includes arrests on charges of home invasion robbery, auto theft, resisting arrest with violence, and drug possession, authorities said.

He was released from prison in April after serving a two-year sentence for a series of convictions in Hernando County that included grand theft of a motor vehicle, possession of methamphetamine, and benefiting a gang via electronic communication, according to the Department of Corrections.

He is described as 6-foot-3, weighing 190 pounds. He has multiple tattoos, including the names "Batta" and "Cheyenne" on his left arm, "Tonya" on his chest and a ghost on his neck. Deputies said the public should consider him armed and dangerous and should not approach him.

Anyone with information about Batta's whereabouts is asked to call the Pasco County Sheriff's Office at (727) 844-7711.