BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) – Detectives charged a 19-year-old Tampa Thursday after the suspect allegedly took Hillsborough County deputies on a wild ride.
Zackery Downey stole a pick-up truck from Twisted Metal Business on the Causeway Boulevard, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives said Downey first rummaged through other vehicles and stole items, including a firearm.
He is facing 19 charges, ranging from grand theft auto, stealing a firearm, fleeing and eluding police, and violating probation.
Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Larry McKinnon said a deputy tried to stop Downey on unrelated matters soon after the suspect allegedly stole the truck. “The deputy actually, in uniform, stepped out there and tried to tell him to stop; drove past him, kept going,” McKinnon said.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Unit jumped into action and followed Downey, who allegedly drove from Brandon all the way to Apollo Beach. Deputies said he swerved all over the road, driving over the median.
Downey almost drove into a body of water before finally being cornered by deputies who used stop sticks.
Employees at Twisted Metal said a customer dropped the truck off the night before for work. It had only been there for hours before Downey allegedly stole it.
He crawled under a gate to get in, rummaged through at least three other vehicles, and since the gate he crawled under wasn’t automatic, waited at least three hours for someone from the other side to enter and open it, the employees said. That’s when Downey took off.
The incident left the employees in shock. “It’s going to wind up on one of those world’s scariest police chase videos,” Josh Kottwitz said.
Kottwitz then applauded deputies for a job well done. “Yeah, they did a very good job getting him stopped,” he said.
McKinnon said he knows exactly why Downey broke into the business. “(He has a) very bad drug habit and he was basically sustaining himself by breaking into cars, all of them unlocked,” he said. “Fortunately, we were able to get him off the streets before he hurt somebody.”
The truck is now at the repair shop. The owner’s insurance will most likely cover all of the damage.