Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. News

Port Richey man kills himself during traffic stop

PORT RICHEY — On the side of U.S. 19 early Saturday morning during a routine traffic stop, deputies say Karl Erik Johnson took his own life.

He was headed south in his white pickup at about 2 a.m., a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report said. A deputy clocked him going 62 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Johnson, 38, of Port Richey pulled into the Withlacoochee River Electric Co.'s parking lot near U.S. 19 and State Road 52 when he saw the deputy's lights, the report states. He had a case of Bud Light in the seat next to him, the report states, and said he'd had four or five beers that night. The deputy asked for his keys and put them on the truck's roof.

Another deputy came to the side of the truck. The report says he watched Johnson pull a case from behind the truck's seat and take out a black hand gun. The deputy drew his gun and told Johnson to put his down, the report states, but he didn't.

Johnson shot himself in the head, the report states. He died at the scene.

His family held a memorial service Tuesday morning at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. Photos of Johnson and accolades from his time in the U.S. Army were on display in the church. The pastor said at 6 feet and 1 inch tall, Johnson was a gentle giant.

His relatives remembered him as a protector and a man who loved his family.