Suspect wounded by deputy at Fort Myers truck stop

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Truckers sleeping at the Pilot Travel Center on Luckett Road off Interstate 75 were startled awake at 3 a.m. Sunday when a suspected car thief crashed his vehicle into one of their trucks while being pursued by sheriff’s deputies.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies shot the suspect after he allegedly rammed two of their cars and tried to run over officers.

The unnamed suspect remained in Lee Memorial Hospital undergoing treatment and had not been arrested as of Sunday night. Normally, arrests are made after a suspect is released, said Tony Schall, a Lee sheriff’s spokesman.

Lee County deputies were checking on a possible stolen car at the Pilot station, and had hemmed in the driver at the pumps when he started ramming the cruisers.

Deputies shot at the man, who was struck once. The accused car thief continued to drive away at a high rate of speed toward woods at the back of the property.

Still at the truck stop, he crashed the vehicle into a parked truck and tried to run. Deputies captured him, and he was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

A female passenger in the vehicle was not injured and was being questioned. No deputies were injured and there was no damage to the travel center’s pumps.

Margaret LaComte, 57, of Houston, who was sleeping in her semi at the center, said the crash and gunshots woke her.

“I was in a deep sleep and them ‘BOOM,’ something hit my truck,” she said. “Then I heard three shots and Millie, my dog, started to bark. I thought someone was trying to rob the truck behind me.”

LeComte, a driver for AMS Logistics of Plano, Texas, said she looked in her rear-view mirror and saw the car lodged under her rear wheels and police cars all around.

“It was a maroon Chrysler, about ’92, ’93 or ’94,” she said. “I had to sit at the truck stop for seven hours. I lost a return load even though I told the guy I was in the middle of a crime scene.”

She said that while she was waiting for deputies to process her truck as part of the crime scene, workers at the Subway told her the suspect, a white male, had come into the center with a woman and bought a sandwich and gas.

“And then the cops came,” she said.

A semi parked behind LeComte’s truck, from J. Matthew Trucking, of Fort Myers, had a bullet hole.

“That driver was really freaked out,” LeComte said. “All he talked about was the bullet hitting his cab.”

The center offers truckers a place to stop and rest and a convenience store and small refreshment center.