A man is dead after Hardee County deputies say the man was covered in blood and crashed a stolen car to avoid being captured.
Deputies tell 8 On Your Side Tommy Redding, 24, was driving a stolen Jeep erratically near Hardee Senior High School. Deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop however, Redding refused ultimately crashing on the curve just south of the school in Wauchula.
The school was put on lockdown after Redding fled on foot, deputies later found Redding hiding in a barn nearby.
When deputies announced themselves as members of the sheriff’s office and ordered Redding to come out with his hands raised Redding kicked the door open while being completely nude and covered in blood. Redding also seemed to be under the influence of an unknown substance, deputies said.
Deputies attempted to apprehend hand Redding however, he was covered in sweat and blood, he was able to slip from the deputy’s grasp and began to run down the driveway.
Authorities say Redding ran by the gate opener, he tore off the metal box cover over the automatic gate opener and began swinging it around trying to keep deputies away. He then threw down the metal box and began ripping the electrical wires out of it.
As more deputies continued to arrive, one deputy attempted to use a taser which was ineffective on Redding. Redding was able to run past the deputy
and enter their vehicle. According to law enforcement, he was then able put the cruiser into gear and back out of the driveway onto the road.
“As he was backing out, two patrol units barricaded him from backing any farther and another deputy positioned his patrol car in front of the vehicle in order to block him. Still trying to elude arrest, Redding rammed the vehicle into the patrol car parked in front of him while a deputy was inside, deploying the airbags in both vehicles,” Hardee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Eddie Davis stated in an email.
Deputies removed Redding from the sheriff’s office vehicle and he continued to physically resist ultimately using sheriff’s office Tasers on him.
Shortly after being physically restrained, Redding became unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Authorities say he was identified by a comparison of tattoos to the ones on file from a previous stint in the Hardee County Jail.
Investigators say Redding motorcycle appeared to have crashed near the residence where the Jeep was stolen from. Investigators also located his clothing near the school and in the barn, he had been hiding in.
One sheriff’s deputy was taken to the hospital to be evaluated for injuries and five deputies were exposed to blood born pathogens.
“I’m very proud of the law enforcement officers who helped secure this
situation and for the deputy who placed himself in harm’s way to stop this individual. We had to ensure we did everything we could to keep our students and community safe.” -Sheriff Arnold Lanier
Results of an autopsy are pending.