"The men and women of the Polk County Sheriff's Office are always working to keep the community safe," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "Even while trying to enjoy time off with their families, our deputies find themselves fighting crime."
At approximately 5:40 on Friday, December 14, 2012, an off-duty Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy was traveling southbound on South Florida Avenue with his family when he heard a vehicle horn honking. When the off-duty deputy turned to see where the noise was coming from, he initially saw an elderly white female driving in the inside lane next to his family’s vehicle.
The deputy’s wife alerted him to a male subject in a black, 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe, behind the elderly woman’s vehicle shaking a gun out of the driver’s side window of the Tahoe. It appeared to the off-duty deputy as if the male subject was attempting to intimidate the elderly woman.
The subject was later identified as 38-year-old Terry Lee Hays, 01/31/1974, 6227 Ivanhoe Street, Lakeland.
The off-duty deputy was able to obtain the tag number of Hays’ vehicle, and observed Hays drive to his residence on Ivanhoe Street. The off-duty deputy contacted the PCSO advising what he and his family had observed and where the suspect could be located.
Responding deputies questioned Hays who was uncooperative and denied the incident took place. Ultimately, the gun Hays used in the incident was located inside his Tahoe.
Hays was taken into custody and booked into the Polk County Jail charged with Improper Exhibit Firearm.
The elderly female driver was not identified at the time of the incident and deputies are asking for the public’s help. “We will not tolerate anyone pointing a gun at an innocent person especially a senior citizen. If we can locate her we may be able to bring more charges against this road rage suspect. .”
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863.298.6200.
Hays' Booking Photo