Individual crashes stolen vehicle near high school, resulting in foot pursuit and death investigation

November 12, 2019

Individual crashes stolen vehicle near high school, resulting in foot pursuit and death investigation

Media Contact: Makayla Chancey, PIO

On November 8, 2019 at approximately 12 p.m., the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office received information of a subject, who appeared to be covered in blood, erratically driving a white Jeep near Hardee Senior High School. A deputy observed a vehicle matching the description in the area of the school and attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the Jeep, which entered the school’s visitor parking lot and then exited on the road, trying to evade law enforcement, before ultimately crashing on the curve just south of Hardee Senior High School on Altman Road in Wauchula, FL.

After the Jeep crashed, the driver, later identified as Tommy Redding, exited the vehicle and fled on foot. Out of concern for the safety of the students and faculty, the school was placed on lockdown while deputies searched the area for the subject. As more deputies arrived on scene, a perimeter was set as deputies utilized a K-9 unit and drones to search the area. Hardee County Fire Rescue was on scene to treat any injuries Redding may have received from the crash.

While deputies continued to search, a resident who lived in the area informed law enforcement she believed someone was inside of her barn on the property nearby. Deputies immediately responded to this location and heard loud noises coming from inside. The deputies announced themselves as members of the sheriff’s office and ordered Redding to come out with his hands raised, at which time he kicked the door open while being completely nude and covered in blood. Deputies also observed that he appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance.

A deputy attempted to apprehend him, but because Redding was covered in sweat and blood, he was able to slip from the deputy’s grasp and began to run down the driveway. As he ran by the gate opener, he tore off the metal box cover over the automatic gate opener and began swinging it around trying to keep deputies away. He then threw down the metal box and began ripping the electrical wires out of it.

At this time, another deputy pulled into the driveway and exited their vehicle in an attempt to apprehend Redding. The deputy deployed a sheriff’s office taser, which was ineffective on him. Redding was able to run past the deputy and enter their vehicle, in which officers attempted to physically remove him from. Redding was able to put the vehicle into gear and backed out of the driveway and onto the road. As he was backing out, two patrol units barricaded him from backing any farther and another deputy positioned his patrol car in front of the vehicle in order to block him. Still trying to elude arrest, Redding rammed the vehicle into the patrol car parked in front of him while a deputy was inside, deploying the airbags in both vehicles.

Deputies removed Redding from the sheriff’s office vehicle and he continued to physically resist, causing them to deploy their sheriff’s office tasers. Once he was restrained, all use of force ceased. Shortly after being physically restrained, Redding became unresponsive. EMS, who was already on scene, immediately rendered medical aid to Redding and transported him to Advent Health Wauchula where he was later pronounced deceased.  Redding’s identity was discovered at the hospital by a comparison of the tattoos on his body matching those on file for Tommy Redding, who had previously been incarcerated at the Hardee County Jail.

Further investigation revealed Redding was driving a stolen vehicle when he originally crashed near the school. While investigating the stolen vehicle, it was discovered Redding’s motorcycle appeared to have crashed near the residence where the Jeep was stolen from. Articles of his clothing were also later located in an orange grove near the school and more clothes were located in the barn he had been hiding in.

One sheriff’s deputy was taken to the hospital to be evaluated for injuries and five deputies were exposed to blood born pathogens.

“I’m very proud of the law enforcement officers who helped secure this situation and for the deputy who placed himself in harm’s way to stop this individual. We had to ensure we did everything we could to keep our students and community safe.” -Sheriff Arnold Lanier

Results of the autopsy are pending and an investigation regarding details of the case is ongoing.