Florida man pleads guilty to shooting at Biloxi police officer from stolen car
No one was injured in the shooting, which happened while the suspect was fleeing from police in a stolen vehicle.
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A man accused of stealing a car, fleeing from police, then shooting at the pursuing officers will spend the next 13 years in prison.
Willie George Byrd, 25, was sentenced Monday in Harrison County Circuit Court to one count of receiving stolen property and one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
On July 31, 2020, just before 11pm, Biloxi Police were called to investigate a stolen vehicle near the Woolmarket exit on Interstate 10. When the officers tried to conduct a traffic stop, the suspects in the vehicle - later identified as Byrd and 20-year-old Ashley Leeann Hurd, both of Pensacola - took off and a chase ensued.
“Once the occupants of the vehicle realized they were being followed by law enforcement, the driver of the vehicle, Ashley Hurd, accelerated to speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, and Byrd emerged from the passenger side window and fired two shots, striking the Officer’s vehicle,” stated Assistant District Attorney, Ian Baker, who prosecuted the case.
Police followed the vehicle across the state line into Alabama where the couple jumped out and ran. The pair were soon captured and taken into custody. The officer returned fire, and a vehicle pursuit continued through Jackson County into Mobile, Ala. The pursuit ended when the stolen vehicle crashed in downtown Mobile.
Police dash camera and body-worn camera video showed Hurd exit the driver’s side and Byrd exit the passenger side of the SUV. After a short foot chase, the pair were taken into custody.
During his plea, Byrd admitted to stealing the SUV in Pensacola, saying he and Hurd were heading back to Florida from Texas in the stolen SUV when the Biloxi officer attempted to pull them over. Byrd further admitted that after he fired at the officer, he handed the gun to Hurd to throw out of the window.
“I got scared, and panicked, and shot at the officer,” Byrd told Circuit Court Judge Randi P. Mueller on Monday.
Byrd had two prior felony convictions from the State of Florida for receiving stolen property and trafficking in stolen property. He was sentenced to 13 years as a habitual criminal, which means he will have to serve his entire sentence day-for-day without the possibility of early release.
Hurd, who drove the car, previously pleaded guilty to accessory after-the-fact to aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. She will be sentenced later this month.
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