SPRING HILL, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says an off-duty detention deputy shot and killed a suspect who stole a truck from the Coca Cola plant along US 41 Friday morning.
US 41 in Spring Hill was shut down in both directions from Bowman Rd. to Greenfield Rd. in Brooksville, so Pasco deputies could conduct their investigation. The road was reopened around 4:45 p.m. on Friday.
“This involved two off-duty detention deputies. They were in their own personal vehicles in uniform,” Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said, briefing the media on the situation Friday morning.
Nocco said the incident started Friday around 4 a.m. with a 911 call from a woman stating a man was following her around County Line Road and US 41. Pasco deputies arrived on scene to find Hernando deputies with the suspect, 30-year-old Ronald Robbibaro. Deputies did allow him to leave the scene, but Pasco Sheriff says a short time later Robbibaro was involved in a crash on US 41. The citizen he crashed with, then witnessed Robbibaro take off running toward the Coca Cola plant.
There, Nocco said Robbibaro stole a truck cab and took off driving southbound down US 41 around 5:16 a.m. Off-duty deputy Sergeant Paul Van Steen, 51, was in his personal vehicle and happened to be right there at that time and followed him. Van Steen was attempting to get the tag of the truck, when Robbibaro stopped the truck suddenly and reversed over the deputy’s Mustang, Nocco said.
“The Coca Cola truck continued southbound on 41, it just so happens another of our detention deputies is there in his private F150,” Nocco explains. The sheriff said Robbibaro then rammed the truck, pushing him off the road.
“They collide, the detention deputy was in full uniform. The suspect and detention deputy jump out of their vehicle at the same time.”
At that point, Nocco said a violent confrontation ensues. Deputy Jeffrey Pyle, 33, was being choked out, Nocco said, when he shot the suspect twice, killing him.
Pyle called 911, and sheriff’s deputies and fire rescue crews arrived on scene.
“Our detention deputy was taken to the hospital, we are following up on any additional injuries,” Nocco said. “This is a horrible situation any time we are involved in these type of incidents, but I want to thank God our deputies are okay.”
The incident rattled one person who lives in the area. Debra Tomkins heard a crashing sound in her front yard and when she looked outside, sheriff’s deputies were everywhere.
“Heard a little noise coming from Hernando County and woke up to a yard full of cops,” said Tomkins.
Ronald Robbibaro crashed his car just a few feet from where she was sleeping inside her home.
” I actually thought someone was trying to steal our truck,” said Tomkins.
She would later learn Robbibaro stole another truck just down U.S. 41 and then was confronted, shot and killed by an off duty detention deputy.
” I didn’t know what to think, it’s unreal. Getting woke up and seeing a bunch of cops, not knowing what’s going on,” said Tomkins.
Robbibaro has a history of four DUI’s, including one in Alabama, disorderly intoxication in 2010, and domestic battery in 2015.
The sheriff’s office says a victim’s advocate is currently working with the deputies and their families as well as assisting the suspect’s family.
Sergeant Paul Van Steen, 51, has been a deputy since June 1995. Deputy Jeffrey Pyle, 33, has been a deputy since June 2007.
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