By Elliott Jones
PALM CITY — Two unemployed men parked in a Ford Thunderbird late Tuesday night were looking for prey to rob at gunpoint, according to sheriff’s reports.
They pulled out along South Murphy Road when a lone state corrections officer passed by on his motorcycle, heading home from Port St. Lucie at 11:21 p.m. Tuesday.
At first, the uniformed officer thought he just heard 10 pops that sounded like a vehicle backfiring, but soon realized the pops were gunfire and the sparks and dirt kicking up around him were from bullets.
He sped up and eluded the car — and injury — and called 911, leading to a high-speed law enforcement chase that ended with the men crashing into a ditch east of High Meadows Avenue and fleeing into a woods.
Deputies caught Pedro Tingling, 21, of West Palm Beach, and Samuel Stephens, 23, of Lantana, after a motorist reported seeing them at 1:46 a.m. Wednesday run across Interstate 95.
During interviews, investigators quoted Tingling as saying, “officer you know the only reason ya’ll caught me was because I saw the dog van, cause (otherwise) I would have run all the way back to Palm Beach.”
Stephens is accused of pulling the trigger on a 9 mm handgun found in the trunk of the red Thunderbird that Tingling acknowledged they were in. Deputies also found a .38-caliber pistol.
Initially Tingling told investigators he spend way from a sheriff’s deputy because he was scared.