A man driving a stolen pickup truck suffered minor injuries Wednesday after officials say he was involved in a traffic crash with a deputy who then discharged his weapon when the man attempted to avoid apprehension and placed the deputy in danger of being run over.
The driver of the truck, Matthew Blaine Wilson, 23, of 11130 Orange River Boulevard, remained in the Lee County Jail Thursday facing five charges related to the incident.
He was charged with flee/elude police - flee with disregard of safety to persons or property, assault on officer firefighter emt, reckless driving, drive with suspended revoked license and grand theft of motor vehicle.
Wilson has a criminal record dating back to 2005 totaling 31 local arrests, according to a prepared statement issued by the Lee County Sheriff's Office. His history includes resisting arrest four times, eight burglary and grant theft charges, as well as five failures to appear in court, officials said. He was placed on probation on July 24 and is a registered felon.
According to the statement, the incident unfolded after an Echo District patrol deputy spotted a gray Dodge pickup truck on Palm Beach Boulevard at 11:32 a.m. The deputy checked with dispatchers on a tag number to see if the vehicle was the same reported stolen from 4991 Billy's Creek Drive in Fort Myers at 9:52 a.m. The tag was confirmed and the deputy began to follow the pickup and requested the Aviation Unit and other patrol members to respond in an effort to coordinate a traffic stop.
The deputy continued to follow the driver of the Dodge when suddenly the suspect began driving erratically and forcing other vehicles off the road, officials said. As the deputy closed in on the suspect vehicle, while traveling north on I-75, the two vehicles collided causing both to exit the highway at the off ramp to Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers. Both vehicles came to rest in the grass on the east side of the road.
The deputy exited his patrol car and advanced on foot toward the suspect who began revving the engine in an attempt to avoid apprehension, placing the deputy in danger of being run over.
"The deputy fired his department issued handgun at the suspect to stop the lethal threat," the release states.
A second deputy arrived to aid in securing Wilson, who officials say sustained minor wounds and was transported to the hospital where he was treated and released.
How Wilson was injured has not been released. The Sheriff's Office declined Thursday to confirm news accounts that Wilson had been "grazed" when the deputy fired his weapon.
The northbound exit ramp at Bayshore was closed for most of the afternoon, re-opening shortly after 4:30 p.m.
Wilson also is believed to have abandoned a vehicle before the theft of the Dodge pickup, officials said. A Chevy pickup, stolen from Orange River Boulevard was recovered on Balboa Avenue Wednesday morning. Deputies also had encountered him around 9 a.m. at the Tice Motel on a bicycle, but he faced no charges at that time.
"It's clear, even at his relatively young stage of adult life, Matthew Wilson has no respect for the law, the citizens of Lee County or the judicial system," said Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott in the prepared statement. "His actions today show the reckless disregard for life and stand as an illustration - for the second time this week - of the dangers our deputies face when they valiantly put on the badge each day."
Source: Lee County Sheriff's Office