“Florida Driver Escapes Armed Carjacker in Courageous Act”

A Florida driver is being praised for refusing to cooperate with an armed carjacking suspect. The suspect, identified as John Coker, has a record of eight felony convictions. The chase began when a stolen car equipped with GPS was reported. The car was tracked to Pasco County, where the suspect abandoned it and carjacked another vehicle. The driver initially cooperated but took a chance to escape when seeing deputies. Video footage shows the suspect getting out of the back seat and falling to the ground as the van speeds away. The suspect is in critical condition after being shot by law enforcement. Mark Price reported


Video released by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shows the driver drove away when the suspect got out of the back seat and tried to get behind the wheel of the van.
Video released by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shows the driver driving away when the suspect attempted to take control of the van.
Video screengrab

A driver in Florida is being hailed as brave for refusing to cooperate with an armed suspect on the run from law enforcement in two counties, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The driver managed to survive the incident, while the suspect is in critical condition after being shot multiple times by law enforcement, as stated in a press release on July 28.
The suspect, identified as John Coker, 36, has a criminal record of eight felony convictions, officials said.
The chase began when a stolen car equipped with GPS was reported at AdventHealth Tampa hospital. The car was tracked to Pasco County, where the suspect abandoned it at a Publix in Dade City. He then carjacked an innocent victim and forced them to drive in an attempt to escape, according to the sheriff’s office.
The victim initially cooperated but took a chance by stopping the car when they saw deputies along the road. The suspect, armed with a firearm, exited the vehicle and pointed the weapon at the victim. However, the victim courageously sped away, leaving the suspect behind.
Video footage released by the sheriff’s office shows the suspect hiding in the back seat and attempting to take control of the van when the victim drove past the deputies. The suspect falls to the ground as the van speeds away.
The suspect was then confronted by police and deputies near a parking lot. Shots were fired when the suspect aimed his gun at a Dade City police officer. The suspect is currently in critical but stable condition, and his identity remains unknown.
Four Hillsborough County deputies are on paid administrative leave while the shooting is being investigated, which is standard procedure, according to officials.
The suspect was found to be armed with two guns and will face charges including armed burglary, grand theft of a motor vehicle, felon in possession of a firearm, grand theft of a firearm, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, armed carjacking, armed burglary of a residence, and armed kidnapping.

This story was originally published on July 28, 2023, at 8:43 AM.

Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness, and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

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