A retired police officer from Jacksonville was in the right place when lots of things went wrong Tuesday.
The Florida Highway Patrol says Alfredo Gonzalez, 27, of Key Largo caused a chain-reaction crash in Key Largo about 5:20 p.m. In all, four vehicles were damaged and Gonzalez was charged with several criminal counts. He’s held at the Monroe County Detention Center with no bond allowed.
Troopers says retired police officer Terrence Riggs, 54, finally caught Gonzalez, and was helped by a neighbor in the area who gave Riggs a belt to restrain the suspect until Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived.
Gonzalez was released from jail at 2 p.m. Wednesday on his own recognizance — then was almost immediately back in jail with no bond allowed, accused of trying to break into a van at the Florida Keys SPCA on Stock Island. The SPCA is just down the road from the jail.
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Here’s what happened, troopers say:
Gonzalez was driving a 1996 Jeep southbound on U.S. 1 at mile marker 101. Callers had alerted authorities the driver was operating the vehicle recklessly and the Sheriff’s Office put out a notice to be on the lookout for it.
Diane Bachand, 37, from Texas was also southbound, in a 2016 Mazda, stopped at the red light at Tarpon Basin. She was behind a 2001 Ford truck driven by Chris Hanson, 37, of Key Largo.
Gonzalez’s Jeep struck the Mazda, which in turn was pushed into the truck. Bachand and Hanson tried to pull into the inside southbound shoulder while Gonzalez drove off. At mile marker 99, Gonzalez turned on to Bay Drive toward the stop sign at Ocean Bay Drive. Riggs, the retired cop, later reported that the Jeep nearly struck a palm tree and several other cars.
Once Gonzalez stopped, Riggs tried to approach him, but Gonzalez backed the Jeep into Riggs’ 2008 GMC. Riggs got out of his vehicle, went to the Jeep and tried to get the Jeep’s keys. Riggs got Gonzalez out of the Jeep, and the two started fighting. That’s when the neighbor with the belt came outside, and Gonzalez was basically in custody until deputies arrived.
Gonzalez is charged with one count of driving under the influence, three counts of DUI-property damage, two counts of leaving the scene of a crash and one count of battery. All are misdemeanors.
As for trying to break into the SPCA van about 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, deputies wrote that when confronted, he “uttered that he was frustrated because he missed a bus and was looking into the vehicles parked down the street but he did not go inside the vehicles. Gonzalez continued and said that he tried to open the door to look inside the vehicles for a phone number to call someone.”
For that, he’s charged with burglary of an auto.