Polk deputies shoot man who led them on I-4 pursuit

By Fallon Silcox and Stephanie Claytor, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Friday, January 12, 2018, 4:07 PM EST

Polk County deputies shot a man multiple times after they said he threatened family members before leading authorities on a pursuit in Lakeland. 

  • Polk deputies shoot man after pursuit
  • Joshua Imhoff, 32, taken into custody
  • Man threatened family, later shot at deputies, they say
  • Sheriff said Imhoff 'was prepared to die in a gunfight'

No deputies were injured. The man, identified as 32-year-old Joshua Imhoff, was taken to a Lakeland hospital. 

Officials said the shooting happened just before 6 a.m. in the area of Highway 33 and Combee Road, which was closed during the Sheriff's Office activity.

According to Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, Imhoff posted a picture of a gun and threatened family members on Facebook early Friday. 

After family members called 911 and deputies responded, the man was spotted near Interstate 4 and Highway 27. 

Deputies began a pursuit and followed Imhoff westbound on I-4. 

Judd said deputies identified Imhoff as a felon with a long record. Judd said Imhoff had at least a dozen previous felonies and served two sentences in state prison.

Deputies continued to follow him south onto Highway 33, eventually setting up stop sticks on the roadway to stop him. When Imhoff fired shots at deputies setting up the stop sticks, they exchanged gunfire with him, Judd said. 

The vehicle ran off the road, and Imhoff ran off, continuing to fire at deputies, who used a cruiser to knock the suspect to the ground, they said. Still armed with a knife, Imhoff was fired upon again by deputies, according to Judd. 

""He was prepared to die in a gunfight, and our deputies shot him after he shot at us," Judd explained. "He was also armed with two knives. What we see from his criminal record is he's a thug. A bad guy."

Imhoff was taken into custody, received emergency aid and taken to a hospital. Judd said he is currently in critical condition at Lakeland Regional Health Center.

"He was wild and out of control," Judd said. "We don't know whether he had drugs in his system (or not). He threatened his family, he threatened deputies and he made "suicide by cop" statements."

"If you shoot at us, we're going to shoot back at you — a lot. And we did."

Witness Teremun Lott, who was on his way to work on Highway 33, said he heard a lot of gunfire, causing him to duck in his car. He described as like a scene out of a movie. Lott was not injured.