PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – Security camera video shows a group of bail bonds agents surrounding a car at a McDonald’s drive-thru in St. Petersburg. The agents are trying to arrest Deveon Stokes, 26 for skipping bail. During the attempt, a Darrell Ingram, 45 fired a shot from his handgun.
Vonceia Welch, 26 was hit in the hand and the head and remains in critical condition. Ingram claims the shot was an accident.
Longtime bail bondsman Armando Roche was disturbed by what he saw in the video. “I thought it would be terrible for the image of our profession,” said Roche. Roche has more than 40 years in the bail bond industry in the Tampa area and maintains shootings like this are rare. “Well considering the thousands of arrests that agents make throughout the country on a daily basis, I would say it’s unusual,” said Roche.
Roche says he has continuing education programs for the agents that work for his company. “We always stress the fact that public safety is the most important thing and to make the apprehension without endangering the public,” said Roche. Although he does acknowledge the profession is dangerous and fugitives skip out on bail on a regular basis. “It is a daily occurrence, to the tune of about 30 to 40 percent of the people arrested in this state that fail to appear,” said Roche.
The state attorney’s office is reviewing the shooting incident to determine if charges will be filed against Ingram.