Head-bopping homeless man behind bars after scuffle near Ocala truck stop

Zackery Shawn Ford

Marion County sheriff’s deputies arrested a homeless man last week after another man claimed he hit him across the head with a metal pipe near the Love’s Travel Stop in Ocala.

When deputies arrived at the truck stop, located at 7791 NW 47th Ave., the victim told them that he was at the corner of 47th Avenue and W Hwy. 326 when 26-year-old Zackery Shawn Ford struck him with a metal pipe, causing his head to bleed. The victim said Ford had fled the scene wearing a “cartoon” backpack. And a witness at the travel center said the bleeding victim had asked to use his phone and that Ford left the scene carrying the pipe and wearing a Nintendo backpack, a sheriff’s office report states.

Love’s Travel Stop at 7791 NW 47th Ave. in Ocala

Another witness said he was standing next to Ford and the victim when they started arguing about money. That witness also confirmed that Ford hit the victim with the pipe, which he said was made out of metal or copper. And he added that Ford had headed east on Hwy. 326.

Another sheriff’s deputy located Ford at the nearby Pilot Travel Center at 4032 W Hwy. 326. The deputed noted that he was wearing the Nintendo backpack and carry a copper pipe that was about 3½ feet long and about half an inch in diameter. Ford “spontaneously stated that it was in self-defense due to the victim pulling a knife on him,” the report says.

After being read his rights, Ford once again claimed to have hit the victim in self defense because he had a knife. He later added that the argument was about money and was then taken into custody, the report says.

Pilot Travel Center at 4032 W Hwy. 326 in Ocala

A search of Ford’s backpack turned up a blue grinder with residue on it that field tested positive for marijuana. A .338-caliber bullet also was located in the backpack, the report says.

A check of Ford’s criminal background revealed several felony convictions, with the latest one being Feb. 20, 2017 in Pinellas County for dealing in stolen property. He was transported to the Marion County Jail, where he was charged with aggravated battery, possession of a weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon and possession of drug equipment. He was being held on $20,500 bond and is due in court March 12 at 9 a.m. to answer to the charges.

Ford is no stranger to the Marion County legal system. In fact, he was arrested five times in 2018 and charged with a litany of crimes, including possession of marijuana under 20 grams, possession of drug equipment, trespassing and unlawful lodging, trespassing after warning, domestic battery and an outstanding battery warrant.