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Oct 2, 2020

Convicted violent felon arrested on I-4 after causing crashes and committing several attempted carjackings in Polk County

Media Contact: Carrie Horstman, Administrator

On Friday, October 2, 2020, four different Polk County victims thwarted one suspect's efforts to carjack each one of them after he crashed his truck fleeing from a hit-and-run on I-4. The preliminary details are as follows:

Christopher Hendrix's truckAround 7:45 a.m. this morning, PCSO received a report of a vehicle crash at exit 38 (SR 557) on I-4, where the driver fled on foot. Calls then began coming into the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) with different reports of a black male suspect wearing blue jeans and a grey shirt attempting to jump into and steal different victims' vehicles.

During the first attempted carjacking, the suspect ran up to a gray Chevy Colorado parked at the pumps of the Marathon gas station (6000 SR 557 in Lake Alfred) and tried to get inside. The female driver was pumping gas at the time. She sprayed him with gasoline from the hose when she saw him try to get into her car. The suspect then jumped into another victim's burgundy Town and Country van that was parked nearby; the owner of the van was standing outside the store when he saw the suspect. That victim, a concealed weapons permit holder, drew his handgun and pointed it at the suspect and demanded he get out. The suspect fled on foot.

The suspect, positively identified as 32-year-old Christopher Hendrix, ran onto SR 557, and jumped off the side of the overpass onto I-4 westbound, causing a box truck to slam on its brakes to avoid hitting him. The box truck was then rear-ended by semi-truck. (FHP responded to investigate those crashes. They are also investigating the earlier hit-and-run crash on I-4 Hendrix caused at the beginning of his crime spree.)

A driver of a green Chevy pickup truck who witnessed the two large trucks crash, pulled over onto the shoulder to help, at which time Hendrix attempted to get into the back seat. The truck's doors were locked and his efforts were thwarted. He then ran across I-4 to the other shoulder, and got into the passenger seat of a red Chevy Equinox whose driver had also stopped to help. That driver took the keys out of his ignition and jumped out of the car. PCSO deputies who had just responded to the area quickly took Hendrix into custody at that time. In all, Hendrix attempted to carjack four different victims.

When Hendrix was placed into the back of a PCSO patrol car, he kicked out the rear window and attempted to escape.

Detectives are trying to locate another victim of an attempted carjacking. Hendrix made a failed attempt to carjack a blue Hyundai on Hwy 557, but the driver sped away from him. If you are this driver, please contact Detective Graves at 863-236-3900.

"This violent, convicted felon was bound and determined to forcibly steal a car this morning, but our citizens said, not today.' While I'm grateful nobody was seriously injured, I'm also very proud of these four victims for keeping their wits about them and refusing to allow this man to take what's theirs." - Grady Judd, Sheriff

Hendrix is being charged with:

        1 count carjacking
        1 count grand theft auto
        2 counts occupied burglary
        1 count felony criminal mischief
        1 count escape

His criminal history includes 6 felonies and 4 misdemeanors, and in 2009 he was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon (firearm). He was released from prison in January 2017. His previous charges were for attempted murder (downgraded to aggravated battery for which he went to prison) battery, possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, firing missile into dwelling, and DWLSR.