PORT ST LUCIE, Fla. — The shooting of a repossession agent in Port St. Lucie Thursday is highlighting how dangerous the job can be.
Fifty-nine-year-old Omar Sueque had his first court appearance Friday after Port St. Lucie Police Chief Richard Del Toro said he first punched 28-year-old Triston Hastings in the face Thursday, before later shooting him six times point blank.
At the time, Hastings was trying to tow Sueque's car from his home on Southwest Villanova Road to repossess it.
"We're fortunate this didn't end in a fatality," Del Toro said. "I mean six times, it’s just amazing.”
Del Toro said Hastings is in stable condition and is expected to be OK, but said violence toward repossession agents is something he's seen before.
"Unfortunately every single day, especially in this type of economy, we’re dealing with that," Del Toro said.
Repossessions Inc. owner Bill Kelly of Fort Pierce, watched the video himself, and said he couldn't believe what he was watching—even though he's been in similar situations before.
"I’ve been shot at, hit with baseball bats, chased all over," Kelly said. "It's heart wrenching to see that something like that would still happen."
Kelly, who has had 60 years of experience in the repossessing industry in multiple cities, said he's reclaimed just about everything there is to tow, but said lately, with the cost of living rising, he's noticed more and more repossessions.
"And it’s going to get a whole lot worse," Kelly said.
According to Cox Automotive, car repossessions went up by more than 20% in 2023 after they dropped off during the pandemic. Kelly said in his experience, that often comes with more anger from those losing their cars.
"And who is the person they’re going to take it out on”? The repo man coming to take his car away," Kelly said.
However, in this case, Kelly had questions about the video he saw.
In it, it appears the driver of the tow truck got back out of his car after being punched in the face to confront his alleged aggressor.
In his experience, Kelly said that's never something he's done or seen another repossession agent do.
"What did he get out of the car for and chase the guy? He should have just continued with what he was doing and left," Kelly said. “I've had people, a pregnant woman, lay down between the car and the tow truck. Obviously, you get out of dodge, you don’t want to be involved in a situation like that."
WPTV had that same question, and asked Del Toro if the driver's seeming to confront Sueque at all complicates the case.
"We’ve reviewed it with the State Attorney's Office as we were going through the investigation," Del Toro said, "so, we’re going to take that all into consideration."
Kelly noted that he wasn't there, and doesn't know exactly what happened, but hoped other, younger repossession agents learn from his own experience.
"No repossession is worth an argument, lawsuit or shooting. It's not worth it," Kelly said.
Sueque is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and simple battery.