August 5, 2013 Polk County Florida – A large, multi-agency manhunt east of Wauchula was suspended Sunday night for a suspect who has eluded capture for more than 36 hours after allegedly opening fire on law enforcement during a chase early Saturday morning.
Hardee County Sheriff’s spokesperson Randy Dey said Sunday night that the major search for Eleno Suarez, 20, of Frostproof, was called off as night set in, but a small force remained in the area overnight.
According to Polk County Sheriff’s spokesperson Donna Wood, Suarez has been and remains at large as a wanted suspect in the armed robbery and carjacking at a home on Oakridge Drive in Frostproof around 10 p.m. on July 22, after eluding arrest Saturday and Sunday.
The manhunt for Suarez began early Saturday morning along Hwy. 64 between Wauchula in Hardee County and Avon Park in Highlands County, where Suarez fled after crashing during a 3-county chase.
The search was called off Saturday, but was triggered again around 10 a.m. after Suarez was seen by multiple people in the area.
A Hardee County Sheriff’s official said a person thought to be Suarez went to a migrant worker area along the rural highway, asked for shoes and clothes, and was given them by workers who did not know that he was a wanted suspect.
An attendant at a nearby gas station, Susan Ornelas, said a man who lives along the highway was approached by Suarez, who asked him if he could use his phone.
The man let him and he made a call to an unknown person. HCSO officials confirmed Suarez had made a call, but would not say to whom.
The man became suspicious and called law enforcement after Suarez had left. He was later informed the man was Suarez.
“He knocked on his door, about 9 o’clock in the morning, wanting to use the telephone,” Ornelas said, “and I said, ‘Why didn’t you call the cops? Why didn’t you grab this guy?’ And he said he didn’t know. He let him use the phone and then he called the cops.”
The attendant said Suarez was also at her gas station at one point Sunday, hiding in bushes, when he came out, tapped on a vehicle’s window and asked for a ride. The driver declined.
Suarez fled from the gas station.
Anyone with information about Suarez’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200.
- Suspect opens fire on Polk Co. deputies (abcactionnews.com)