NEW PORT RICHEY — A 42-year-old New Port Richey man has been arrested on two charges of attempted murder for firing a handgun from his pickup truck toward another pickup as he chased the other truck through the city Monday morning, police said.
William Nazario-Ocasio, 42, of 4006 Citrus Drive pursued the truck because he believed the driver — Michael Joe Moore, 26, of New Port Richey — had stolen a leaf blower from his home, according to a complaint affidavit.
Moore was hit by a bullet in the left leg during the chase and taken to a hospital for treatment. Later, he was arrested in the leaf blower theft on a felony charge of grand theft. He also faces a charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell.
Investigators gave this account of the incident:
Nazario-Ocasio spotted a white Chevrolet truck that he heard the leaf-blower thief was driving and followed it in his red Ford F-150. He said he didn't want the thief to "get away," according to the complaint affidavit.
He said a passenger in the Chevrolet pointed a gun at him, according to the affidavit. Later, he said, he fired twice at the Chevrolet along Sea Forest Drive near Marine Parkway, according to the affidavit.
The Chevrolet continued driving onto Marine Parkway and pulled into a parking lot, with Nazario-Ocasio following behind. He pointed his gun at the truck again, frightening another driver between the trucks, and fired just as the other driver pulled away, the affidavit says.
Two passengers in Moore's truck told investigators that no one in their truck had a gun.
They said they tried to flag down law enforcement officers as they fled from the red truck but could not stop for fear they'd be shot, the affidavit says.
Nazario-Ocasio's wife told investigators she thought the thief had stolen the leaf blower from the bed of her truck and hid it in some bushes across the street. She said she confronted the thief when he came back and he drove off in a white Chevrolet truck.
She called her husband.
Moore told investigators he found the leaf blower, a professional grade Stihl backpack device valued at $400, thinking someone had thrown it away.
The leaf blower flew out of the bed of the Chevrolet pickup during the chase and the driver stopped to retrieve it before continuing on, witnesses said.