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Utilities Supervisor Follows Attempted Murder Suspects

Published on Nov 19, 2020

Polk County Utilities Supervisor Jeff Goolsby's afternoon a week ago was anything but business-as-usual after he found himself a witness to an attempted murder, on the phone with 911, calling out his changing directions to dispatchers, while tailing the suspects who were driving a conversion van between Polk City and Auburndale.

Goolsby's quick actions and assistance led to the arrests of four teens, ranging in age from 14 to 18 years old, who were charged with attempted felony murder and other offenses after allegedly running over the mother of another teen with whom they had an ongoing dispute, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

"We always say, if you see something, say something," Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said. "Well, Mr. Goolsby did even better than that – he saw something, made a U-turn, and followed the suspects at a safe distance, all the while staying on the line with 911. He's our hero of that day, for sure. His call made all the difference in the world, and allowed us to catch these suspects within minutes of their heinous crime."

The whole incident began shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, when the four teens went to the victim's house to "handle" an ongoing dispute, which had been romantic in nature.

The suspects banged on the front door, but the victim came out of the side door and into the carport to see who was there. The group of suspects then ran to the carport where one of the teens allegedly attacked the victim, who then retreated into his home, the Sheriff's Office reported.

About that time, the victim's mother arrived at the house and the suspects ran off.

The mother followed them and watched them get into the van, which was parked across the street. She then began taking photos of the suspects and the van with her cell phone. That was when Goolsby was passing by the scene, according to reports.

"I could tell she was a mother, she just had that look as she was taking pictures of them," he said.

As the woman stood behind the conversion van, its driver shifted into reverse and throttled the vehicle into her, Goolsby said and the Sheriff's Office reported.

Goolsby watched the scene unfold from his rearview mirror. He then turned back to help. As he neared the woman, he was able to see neighbors helping her. So he proceeded to follow them in his county truck, but from a safe distance where they didn't know they were being followed.

"I'm following a van that just ran this lady over," Goolsby told dispatchers, according to a 911 recording. "They just mowed that lady down."

Goolsby stayed on the phone with dispatchers, gave step-by-step directions on which roads he traveled, how far he was from the suspects and provided descriptions of the suspects, which were all invaluable pieces of information for the Sheriff's Office's investigation.

Within minutes, and thanks to his quick thinking, deputies were able to arrive at the scene and make an arrest.