Witness: ‘It was like a scene from a movie’ when Polk deputies shoot man in gunfight

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A local father is thankful to be alive after getting caught in the crossfire of a shootout between Polk County deputies and an armed man.

Teremun Lott said he never expected to have to dodge bullets while on his way to work Friday morning.

“It was like a scene from a movie man, scary, scary,” Lott said.

The incident closed Highway 33 between Combee Road and University Boulevard much of the morning.

“I had to duck down in my car and I ended up coming over here trying to flag a school bus not to go because I didn’t know if a school bus was heading this way,” Lott said.

Joshua Imhoff, 32, is in intensive care at Lakeland Regional Health after Sheriff Grady Judd said he opened fire on deputies who were trying to stop him. Judd said the pursuit began as a domestic violence call.

A woman had called 911 at 4:22 a.m. Friday and said her ex-boyfriend showed a gun on Facebook and said something to the effect of “How messy do you think this will be?” and “I’m ready to die,” Judd said.

The woman and her family were evacuated from her home out of concerns for their safety, according to Judd.

Deputies pulled over Imhoff on I-4 and said he performed a donut maneuver in his vehicle and took off westbound on I-4.

“What we had here this morning was a total disregard for the law,” Judd said.

They eventually caught up with him on Highway 33 where Imhoff started shooting at deputies who rammed his car, pushing it off the road, Judd said.

“He was prepared to die in a gunfight,” Judd said.

Judd said Imhoff jumped out of his car and started shooting at deputies, who fired back.

“If you shoot at us, we’re going to shoot back at you a lot, and we did,” said Judd.

Imhoff then ran down the road and deputies drove behind him.

Judd said they knocked him down with the side of their PCSO cruiser. Deputies went to take him into custody and he lunged at them with a knife, so they shot him, Judd said.

“He was wild, he was out of control. We don’t whether or not he had drugs in his system,” Judd said.

One of the deputies provided medical aid to Imhoff until an ambulance arrived and took him to Lakeland Regional Medical Center where he was in intensive care, according to the sheriff.

Judd said Imhoff has a lengthy criminal history and is a convicted felon.

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