Venice police arrest man suspected in violent attempted carjacking

The Publix located at 535 S. Tamiami Trail.
The Publix located at 535 S. Tamiami Trail.
88 Spa Massage is located at 617 South Tamiami Trail.
88 Spa Massage is located at 617 South Tamiami Trail.

UPDATE: Venice police say a man suspected in this battery and attempted carjacking is in custody. Ralph M. Forte, 53, confessed to committing the crimes, investigators said.

Forte’s fingerprints were found on one of the vehicles, police said. In addition, police said he was seen on surveillance video at the scene of the crime.

PREVIOUS STORY: VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – Venice police are warning citizens in Venice and Sarasota County about a suspect who is on the run after critically injuring a woman while trying to carjack her.

Investigators say it happened around 7:55 p.m. on Wednesday in the parking lot of a Publix located at 535 S. Tamiami Trail.

Officers responded to a report of a carjacking and battery in progress. When officers arrived, they found a woman who was injured in the nearby Shell parking lot.

Officers then learned that the suspect tried to forcibly enter a pickup truck that was stopped in the roadway near 88 Spa Massage at 617 South Tamiami Trail. The driver of the pickup sped away and as he approached Publix, he saw the suspect in the bed of the truck.

The driver entered the parking lot of Publix and hit the brakes, causing the suspect to be ejected from the truck. The suspect then committed another attempted carjacking when he demanded keys from a Publix employee claiming he was armed with a knife. During the confrontation, the victim was battered by the suspect, who ran away.

The suspect was last seen running near Publix, fleeing south behind the Elephant’s Trunk Thrift Store.

It was later determined that the injured female had been working inside the 88 Spa Massage. She is currently in critical condition at an area hospital.

Venice High School was put on lockdown as a precaution and deputies searched a nearby mobile home park for the suspect.

The description of the suspect is very vague, He is described as a white male wearing a red shirt, possibly in his 30s.

If you have any information that can help investigators, call the Venice Police Department at (941) 486-2444.

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