TAMPA — A man who stole a couple’s Range Rover sport utility vehicle led police on a high speed chase that started in downtown Tampa, went as far south as Sarasota then ended in Brandon with his arrest, authorities said.
Matthew Evan Cartagena, 20, 119 W. Grace St., Tampa, has been charged with armed carkacking, fleeing to elude law enforcement and resisting arrest, according to Tampa police.
The chase started about 11:20 a.m. today when Cartagena approached Jainullabdin and Khursheed Syed, a couple from Michigan in town for a wedding, outside of the Hilton Tampa Downtown hotel, 201 N. Tampa St., police said.
Cartagena told Jainullabdin Syed to hand him the keys to the Range Rover or he would “blow their head off,” Tampa police Lt. Ronald McMullen said. The Syeds noticed Cartagena was holding a gun and complied.
Cartagena then drove south on Tampa Street to eastbound Interstate 4. He eventually went south on I-75 and police called in backup from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol and five other agencies, McMullen said.
Tampa police pursued Cartagena as far south as Sarasota, but called off the chase when officers lost sight of the Range Rover and decided to not risk residents getting injured during the pursuit, McMullen said.
Minutes later, Tampa police were notified that the Range Rover was heading north on I-75 and posted officers along that route to spot the SUV.
Cartagena was caught when he exited I-75 near Brandon and ended up at Bloomingdale Avenue and Gronto Lake Road. Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies and FHP troopers assisted in the arrest, McMullen said.
Cartagena will be booked at Orient Road Jail today.