POLK COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - A convicted felon in Polk County allegedly attempted to carjack multiple vehicles after fleeing an auto accident in which he was involved.
According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, the suspect, Christopher Hendrix (32) of Belleview, Florida was driving a pickup truck that was registered in his name. At around 7:45am on Friday morning, he was involved in a crash on I-4 which resulted in his pickup leaving the interstate and coming to a stop in a swampy area.
Hendrix abandoned the vehicle and proceeded on foot to the Marathon gas station on State Road 557, just south of the interstate. He approached a woman refueling her Chevy Colorado and attempted to steal her vehicle. The woman responded by removing the fuel nozzle from her truck and sprayed the suspect until he fled.
Hendrix approached an unoccupied burgundy van that was also at the Marathon station. The owner of the van, a concealed weapons permit holder, noticed what was occurring and approached the suspect with his firearm drawn, extracting the suspect from his vehicle at gunpoint.
Hendrix fled the Marathon station and proceeded down an embankment, then jumped into the westbound traffic of I-4. A man travelling westbound in a box truck slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the fuel-doused suspect, which in turn caused a semi-truck to rear-end that victim (FHP responded to investigate those crashes. They are also investigating the earlier hit-and-run crash on I-4 Hendrix caused at the beginning of his crime spree.).
The suspect then ran to the other side of the westbound traffic, approaching a green pickup that had stopped to help. The driver had locked the doors to the pickup which was enough to deter Hendrix to the next vehicle, a red Chevy Equinox belonging to a good samaritan that had also stopped to help the crash victims. As Henricks attempted to enter the vehicle, the good samaritan removed the keys from his vehicle and ran away.
Law enforcement had arrived at this point, subdued and handcuffed Hendrix, then placed him into a police cruiser. He reportedly kicked out the rear window of the patrol car in an effort to escape. He was then brought under control by responding officers and taken to county jail.
Detectives are trying to locate another victim of an attempted carjacking. Hendrix made a failed attempt to carjack a blue Hyundai on Hwy 557, but the driver sped away from him. If you are this driver, please contact Detective Graves at 863-236-3900.
Sheriff Judd took a moment in the press conference to remind reporters that Hendrix previously served 10 years in federal prison for aggravated battery, which was a plea-down from attempted murder. Judd asserted, "Our goal is to send him back to state prison for an extended period of time because it's painfully evident to us that the community is not safe when he's at large."
Judd continued the press conference by applauding the efforts of the affected citizens, adding, "I guarantee you, when you start trying to carjack somebody's car at the gas station, you're subject get get shot. And shot a lot."
An unidentified reporter responded, "You don't think that's a dangerous message you're putting out?" Judd replied, "The message is, you don't have to have a firearm. You don't have to have a knife to be a dangerous individual. And if you come to this county, and if you use extreme violence, to try to carjack somebody from their car, if you get shot that's on you. You can protect yourself and your property."
Hendrix is being charged with:
1 count carjacking
1 count grand theft auto
2 counts occupied burglary
1 count felony criminal mischief
1 count escape
His criminal history includes 6 felonies and 4 misdemeanors, and in 2009 he was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon (firearm). He was released from prison in January 2017. His previous charges were for attempted murder (downgraded to aggravated battery for which he went to prison) battery, possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, firing missile into dwelling, and DWLSR.
NOTE: The suspect's name was update to the proper spelling (Hendrix) which was not available at the time of publishing.
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