A shooting suspect died early Sunday afternoon after leading Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies on a chase from Marion County to Floral City.
Calls came into Marion County around 9 a.m. reporting an individual shooting at the Sabal Pipeline and pipeline construction equipment with a high powered rifle. Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies, CCSO deputies and the Florida Highway Patrol all responded to the incident.
“Prior to deputies arriving on scene, the suspect fled into Citrus County, where we ended up in a pursuit with the individual,” CCSO Capt. Dave DeCarlo said.
A chase ensued down Highway 200 and east on U.S. Highway 41 leading deputies into Floral City where the suspect crashed on the side of the road just south of Floral Park drive.
“The suspect ended up crashing the vehicle right by the Floral City Park,” DeCarlo said. “The suspect exited the vehicle, engaged the deputies with a weapon, where he was subsequently shot and killed.”
The suspect was James Marker, 66, from Collier County.
“FDLE is investigating the scene, investigating the shooting as per policy and protocol of the sheriff’s office,” DeCarlo said.
All deputies involved in the incident are safe and will be on administrative leave until the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigates. Names of the officers involved are being withheld at this time.
In a CCSO Facebook post Sheriff Mike Prendergast said:
“We know that the suspect was armed and extremely dangerous, and pending the examination of the evidence at the scene, we will be able to determine what other weapons he had in his possession at the time of the shooting. Fortunately, none of our Citrus County Deputies, Marion County Deputies or Florida Highway Patrol Troopers were injured as a result of this crime.”
At the pipeline site, the suspect struck several heavy-equipment machines, according to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. In addition, several shots hit the pipeline, which is under construction. No workers were on site. However, several motorists provided eyewitness statements to the sheriff’s office about the shooter.
“I thought it was construction so I called the developer and he said there wasn’t any construction today,” said Chevy, who asked that his last name not be used. Chevy works at the nearby Bel Lago subdivision, which sits west of the Sabal Trail Pipeline.
“I start hearing them go over the wall, it sounded like missiles,” he said, noting he drove down the road and spotted the shooter on the roof of his car. “I could tell it was an assault rifle.”
Chevy said he drove down to where the protestors had lodged themselves into the pipe and turned around so he could return to Bel Lago and secure the residences.
“When I was driving back, he shot across the hood of my car and I saw the sand explode at least 3 feet into the air.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will be investigating the shooting. No law enforcement personnel or citizens were injured as a result of this incident.
It was the second incident involving pipeline protests in a week.
A man and woman were arrested after they lodged themselves inside a pipe at the Sabal Trail Pipeline (which is under construction) located at the 12500 block of SW Highway 200 on Wednesday, Feb. 22. A call for service was received around 7:32 a.m., stating that two protesters had illegally trespassed on the construction site for the natural gas pipeline and had entered one of the pipes. The duo refused to come out of the pipe and had locked themselves together using a device to make it more difficult for authorities to remove them from each other.
MCSO Patrol Deputies, MCSO’s Field Force Unit (a unit that specializes in search and rescue) and Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) responded to the scene and began efforts to locate the protesters inside the pipe. Once they were located, authorities made multiple efforts to convince the two subjects to voluntarily come out of the pipe, but the subjects continued to be non-compliant. MCFR firefighters began efforts to perform a “confined space rescue” in order to remove both trespassers. The male subject, Nicholas Segal-Wright (DOB: 05/18/1991) was successfully removed at 1:06 p.m. and the second subject, Karrie Kay Ford (DOB: 01/03/1988) was removed from the pipe at 2:03 p.m. Both subjects were checked out by paramedics on scene and were found to be in good health. They were then transported to the Marion County Jail.
Segal-Wright and Ford are being charged with three felony charges: grand theft over $20,000-$100,000, trespassing on a posted construction site, and criminal mischief. Ford is being additionally charged with resisting without violence for refusing to take a device off her arm that briefly restricted deputies from taking her into custody. Both defendants allegedly temporarily deprived the construction company from the use of their pipeline, justifying the grand theft charge.
Jeff Bryan of the Riverland News contributed to this report.