Police chase ends with deputy-involved shooting in Lakeland after suspect threatens family, deputies

LAKELAND, Fla. — The Polk County Sheriff's Office is currently investigating a deputy-involved shooting that occurred Friday morning in Lakeland.

According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, deputies received a call at 4:34 a.m. from a woman who said that her ex-boyfriend, 32-year-old Joshua Imhoff, sent her a message on Facebook showing her a picture of a gun saying, "how messy do you think this will be?" He threatened to kill her, he threatened to kill law enforcement and was allegedly making statements like "I'm ready to die". 

Deputies responded to the domestic disturbance and began to evacuate the woman's home because Imhoff reportedly said that he was going to show up at her home with his gun. While they were evacuating the home, they saw the suspect out in the area of I-4 and U.S. 27. 

"We attempt a traffic stop. He pulls over, he acts like he's gonna stop then he starts spinning donuts, and he takes off," Sheriff Judd said in a press conference.

During the chase, deputies were able to identify the suspect and determined that he is a known felon, illegally in possession of a firearm.

Deputies continued to follow Imhoff on I-4 and set up a traffic stop near State Road 33. They believed he was heading to his home on N. Combee Road. 

While deputies were trying to stop him, he began to shoot at them. 

"That's a very bad thing to do," said Sheriff Judd. "When he shoots at us, we shoot at him."

Eventually, deputies were able to ram the car off of the road.

When the Imhoff got out of his car, he continued to fire at deputies. They returned fire.

That's when Imhoff began running down Highway 33 with his gun in hand.

Deputies were able to knock the Imhoff down by using the side of their cruiser. As they got out of their vehicle to attempt to apprehend Imhoff, he reportedly jumped up with a knife. That's when deputies continued to shoot at him, according to Sheriff Judd. 

Deputies say Imhoff is now in custody at Lakeland Regional Health in the trauma center where he is receiving "extensive assistance" and undergoing surgery for multiple gunshot wounds. Deputies immediately provided first aid on the suspect following the shooting. 

Imhoff was armed with a .45 caliber firearm and more than one magazine. "He was prepared to die in a gun fight," said Sheriff Judd during a second news conference on Friday. 

"At this point of the investigation, it's abundantly clear what happened. He was wild, he was out of control, we don't know whether or not he had drugs in his system. He threatened his family, he threatened deputies, he made suicide by cop statements and ultimately shot at my deputies," said Sheriff Judd. "And you just don't do that because if you're gonna shoot at us, we're gonna shoot back at you, a lot. And we did. "

No deputies were injured in the shooting.

Highway 33 is currently closed at the intersections of Combee Road, as well as University Boulevard.

Imhoff has twelve previous felonies and a slew of misdemeanors. 

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