MANATEE — A Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy shot and wounded a possible burglary suspect Wednesday afternoon near U.S. 41 in the Whitfield area.
Jakob Cunnien, 18, who was driving a gray Ford F-150 truck, was shot in the arm and taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to authorities.
Late Wednesday he was charged with aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, fleeing to elude and driving with a suspended a driver’s license. He also was cited for making an improper turn.
This isn’t the first time Cunnien has dealt with law enforcement.
He was driving a car last July when his passenger, 19-year-old William White Jr., was shot and killed during what investigators said was a botched robbery.
Timothy Brooks, a former Lakewood Ranch football player, and Cody Rogers are both facing murder charges in White’s death.
On Wednesday, yellow crime scene tape marked off an area near the intersection of Granada Court, Westmoreland Drive and U.S. 41 where the shooting took place.
The truck had its hazard lights flashing as investigators began processing the scene. A white pair of tennis shoes and latex gloves remained on the ground in front of the truck with the passenger door still ajar.
A woman, who declined to give her name, was in a nearby hair salon and watched Cunnien get taken into custody.
“I saw the cops converging on this pickup. The kid in the pickup came out of the passenger side,” she said. “He had his hand up and they took him down to the ground. He was all bloody. The kid was yelling, ‘They shot me. They shot me.’”
Deputies were attempting to pull over Cunnien at about 5:40 p.m. because they had confirmed he was driving with a suspended license, said Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube.
Cunnien was also a suspect in recent car break-ins in the area after he tried Saturday to cash a check that was reported stolen from a vehicle, said sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow.
“His name just keeps popping up,” he said.
Residents in the quiet residential neighborhood near Sarasota Bay said they noticed more deputies in the area lately as a result of the break-ins. They were relieved Cunnien was arrested.
“I’m glad they caught him. I know I would have been upset if my car had been broke into,” said Melissa Mellert, who lives nearby. “It’s such a good neighborhood, and then we have lousy people like that who come through.”
Kathy Cunnien, Cunnien’s mother, said deputies questioned her son a couple days ago about the recent car break-ins.
“They found no stolen goods, no fingerprints — no nothing,” she said as she stood near the shooting scene. “They knew he was driving my truck. He does have a suspended license and he keeps driving my truck. I know that’s wrong, but it is what it is.”
She said she believes her son is innocent of the car burglaries and said he has no history of committing violent crime.
“Why couldn’t they use a Taser?” she said.
A deputy began following Cunnien and did not activate his lights Wednesday afternoon. When Cunnien saw the deputy, he reportedly made a U-turn near 63rd Avenue West and near Fifth Street West, a couple miles from the shooting scene.
Other deputies, who had been saturating the area after recent reports of car break-ins, were contacted and attempted to stop Cunnien on Broughton Street.
Cunnien did not pull over and continued driving to Westmoreland Drive where deputies had blocked the roadway, according to authorities.
The sheriff’s office said the deputy fired at Cunnien after he refused an order to stop and backed up his truck toward the deputy.
Beth Ealing, whose home is near the shooting site, said she watched one teen jump out with his hands up and stay on the sidewalk on Granada Court.
Ealing said one deputy tried to enter the truck to get to Cunnien. However, Cunnien remained in the vehicle. When Cunnien tried pulling away in the truck, she said, a deputy fired one shot, striking him.
“He pulls off and he was shot,” Cunnien said.
Bristow said it was unclear if Cunnien had a weapon in the truck. Deputies were waiting for a search warrant Wednesday night.
Cunnien’s passenger has not been charged with a crime.
The deputy involved in the shooting, whose name was not released Wednesday, was reported to be doing OK.
There was another deputy involved shooting in the 7700 block of Westmoreland Drive Aug. 22, 2008, when Deputy Larry Teeters shot and killed Michael J. Knowles as Knowles tried to stab his wife.
Per sheriff’s office policy, the deputy in Wednesday’s shooting will be placed on administrative paid leave while the investigation continues.