A 33-year-old man who was shot by Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies on Friday evening after a high-speed pursuit led into Marion County has died.
In a social media post on Saturday, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) identified the man as Skyler Wentworth.
According to CCSO, deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a Mitsubishi SUV in the area of Hernando when the driver, later identified as Wentworth, decided to flee.
The sheriff’s office stated that Wentworth immediately threw a black bag from his vehicle while attempting to elude the deputies. The bag was recovered by law enforcement, and it contained pressed pills that field-tested positive for fentanyl.
Deputies initially canceled the pursuit due to safety concerns. According to CCSO, a female passenger in the front seat and a child in the back seat were observed, and they “appeared to be in distress” while “attempting to exit the moving vehicle.”
The pursuit was re-initiated when Wentworth briefly slowed the SUV to allow the passengers to exit along the side of the road.
Wentworth continued to flee from deputies, and the pursuit entered Marion County on State Road 200. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office joined the pursuit, and an MCSO deputy was able stop the vehicle with a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) maneuver.
The pursuit came to an end when the SUV crashed into a wooden utility pole on State Road 200, approximately 10 miles into Marion County.
According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, Wentworth proceeded to exit the SUV with a rifle in his hand, which posed an “immediate threat to the deputies and nearby citizens.” The CCSO deputies quickly drew their firearms and fired at the driver, striking him.
Wentworth was transported to a local medical facility for treatment, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
“Wentworth is no stranger to our deputies; he is registered as a career criminal and has an extensive drug-related criminal history in our county,” stated CCSO Colonel Elena Vitt. “None of our deputies ever WANT to use lethal force, but they are prepared to if it means saving countless others.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is currently investigating the officer-involved shooting.