LAKELAND, Fla. — A wanted man is accused of opening fire on law enforcement while leading authorities on a chase through two counties.
Hillsborough County deputies and ATF agents were surveilling 27-year-old Francisco Cabrera after investigators said they linked him to several robberies and armed carjackings in Brandon and Plant City.
They tried to arrest him late Wednesday morning at a Wendy's on West Baker Road in Plant City. But, deputies say he drove off – leading them on a chase that went eastbound on I-4 before exiting in Lakeland and heading onto Highway 92.
Cabrera shot at them several times during the pursuit, deputies said.
"With no regard for anyone's life but his own, Cabrera shot recklessly at law enforcement while traveling down the busy interstate," Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
According to Chronister, Cabrera had no regard for anybody else's life and repeatedly fired in an effort to avoid getting arrested.
First responders say the pursuit came to a halt when a Lakeland police officer performed a PIT maneuver on Cabrera's car along New Tampa Highway, directly in front of the headquarters for Publix.
The sheriff's office said Cabrera refused commands to get out of his car and show his hands.
"He continues to act the same way he has throughout this pursuit and he has gone below the dash and coming up and discharging his firearm," Chronister said.
Law enforcement officers said they feared for their lives and the lives of bystanders by the grocery chain's main office. Considering their situation, members of the sheriff's office, Lakeland Police Department and the ATF say they shot at Cabrera.
HCSO says he continued to be "combative" even after being wounded by the gunfire. Authorities say he wasn't cooperating while they tried to get him out of the car to arrest him and perform first aid.
Ultimately, investigators say they had to deploy a Taser on him, so they could arrest him and get him medical attention. Authorities say paramedics arrived and performed life-saving efforts before taking Cabrera to an area hospital, where he underwent surgery.
The handgun Cabrera had was recovered at the scene, authorities say.
Cabrera's "lengthy" criminal history includes eight felony charges, two felony convictions and seven misdemeanor charges in Hillsborough County, according to the sheriff's office. Among those charges were drug counts, parole violations and domestic violence arrests, HCSO said.
He will be booked into the Polk County Jail and face charges in Lakeland, including three counts of attempted murder of law enforcement officers.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is tasked with investigating the shooting as it involved sheriff's office personnel, the sheriff's office said.