Motorist accused of shooting at deputies

Apr. 19—ADEL — An argument over a tow truck fee turned into a standoff Thursday with a suspect firing at deputies in Cook County.

At 3:24 a.m., deputies were sent to the 50-mile marker area of I-75 on reports of a man in the roadway, a Cook County Sheriff's Office statement said.

They found a man seated behind the wheel of a car. According to the sheriff's office, he was uncooperative and refused to get out of the car. The car was inoperable, so deputies called for a tow truck. The car was out of gas and the battery was drained.

The tow company agreed to haul the car to a convenience store in Adel to get gas and jump-start the vehicle. The suspect refused to get out of the car for the tow company, so both he and the car were towed to the store, the sheriff's office said.

Once the gas and the battery were taken care of, the tow truck driver told the car's driver how much the tow would cost; he refused to pay and tried to back off the tow truck despite the car still being tied down, the statement said.

Deputies and officers from the Adel Police Department tried to resolve the issue, but the suspect locked the door and rolled up the windows while still attached to the tow truck. Lawmen forced their way into the car, at which point the suspect pulled out a handgun and fired at the officers. The bullet went through a deputy's pants leg without touching him, the sheriff's office said.

Law enforcement backed away and cleared travelers and store patrons from the scene while negotiating with the driver. The suspect raised his hands and after a brief struggle officers removed him from the car with the use of tasers. An off-duty police officer from Florida assisted officers in taking the suspect into custody.

The suspect was charged with several counts of aggravated assault on law enforcement officers.

Evidence at the scene showed the suspect may have been suffering from paranoia induced by illegal substances, the sheriff's office said.

Terry Richards is the senior reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times.