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Suspect shot and killed during vehicle chase through multiple counties

Posted at 10:48 PM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-28 10:59:20-04

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- A gunman was shot and killed on I-95 during a vehicle pursuit by deputies through multiple counties on Friday.

On Friday, May 24, 2019 at approximately 9:18 p.m., the Indian River County Sheriff's Office received information from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office regarding a vehicle pursuit heading southbound on I-95 from Cocoa.

When the fleeing vehicle, a pickup truck pulling an open flatbed trailer, stopped at a rest area located between Palm Bay and Sebastian, two passengers (one adult and one 17-year-old) exited. The truck then got back on I-95 headed south towards Indian River County.

The passengers were taken into custody by Brevard County deputies. The two passengers revealed that the driver of the fleeing vehicle had active arrest warrants and was considered armed and dangerous. They confirmed that the driver was in possession of an AR-15 rifle and a handgun.

An Indian River County deputy in an unmarked patrol car deployed stop sticks at the north county line before joining the pursuit of the fleeing vehicle.

As the tires on the fleeing vehicle deflated, the vehicle attempted a wide turn in the median.

A K-9 deputy used his patrol vehicle to block the fleeing vehicle from getting back onto I-95 northbound.

According to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, as the deputy in the unmarked patrol truck followed the fleeing vehicle into the median, the suspect fired several rounds at the deputy, striking the unmarked patrol truck with at least two rounds.

Both the deputy in the unmarked patrol truck and the K-9 deputy exchanged fire with the suspect, who was pronounced deceased at the scene. Neither of the deputies were injured.

The suspect was later identified as 41-year-old Ryan Brett Thomas of Satellite Beach.

According to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, Thomas had active arrest warrants from Brevard County for violation of probation and drug charges. Since 1996, deputies say Thomas has been arrested more than 20 times for felony charges and more than 10 times for misdemeanors, with 7 felony convictions.

The two deputies who discharged their weapons were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard protocol. The suspect’s AR-15 was recovered at the scene.

Deputies observed drugs in plain view, and a full inventory of the vehicle will take place this week following the execution of a search warrant.