LAKE ALFRED, Fla. - A 33-year-old woman from Brevard County has died following a motorcycle gang shootout on I-4 early Friday morning, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies say they responded to the eastbound lanes of Interstate 4, near the U.S. Highway 27 overpass for a reported single-vehicle motorcycle crash around 12:15 a.m.
They said the 33-year-old woman was a passenger on the motorcycle, who fell off and had a gunshot wound. The woman was taken to a hospital.
The driver, 38-year-old Ronald Donovan who is also from Brevard County, refused to cooperate with the investigation, but preliminary evidence shows he fired the first shot, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Donovan is a member of the Sun City Disciples gang, the sheriff explained. He was heading east with his girlfriend, along with at least two other motorcyclists.
"When along came two Thug Riders, a different gang, and passed them," Judd said, emphasizing the investigation is still in the early stages. "Well, apparently that didn’t work so well, there was some skirmishing and driving at about 100 mph."
Courtesy: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
That's when Donovan fired his gun from his motorcycle, shooting one of the Thug Riders. During the investigation, the victim said he felt a "sharp pain in the back as I was shot. I immediately returned fire."
A bullet struck Donovan's female passenger in the head, and she fell off the motorcycle.
The male shooting victim, who is from Osceola County, drove to the Champions Gate exit, stopped at a Papa John's near the intersection of Lake Wilson Road and Osceola Polk Line Road, and dialed 911. The sheriff's office also received other 911 calls about the shooting on the highway.
Deputies were sent to both locations and determined a crash did not occur.
Deputies noticed a motorcycle leaving the scene. They suspect the driver had the firearms and was carrying materials showing the gang colors.
When they arrived, Donovan had two empty gun canisters. Deputies said when they tried to interview him, he said, "I know my rights. I don't have to talk to you."
"Dude, your girlfriend is just shot off the back of your motorcycle…and you won’t cooperate to tell us what happened?" Sheriff Judd said during a press conference. "OK, we'll see how that works for you."
The eastbound lanes of I-4 were shut down during the investigation for about three hours and didn’t fully reopen until 9:30 a.m.
As of now, it appears this was not a retaliation act. Detectives said both groups were leaving Tampa but were not at the same place.
"They did not have a rivalry going on," the sheriff explained. "It just happened that the Thug Riders passed the Sin City Riders and that didn’t work so well. You had a rush of testosterone and a rush of ideocracy."
Donovan is facing charges of second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, tampering with evidence, two counts of resisting with violence and two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer.