LAKELAND — A carjacking suspect who was shot in the leg early Thursday morning after firing shots at a pursuing Lakeland police officer is facing numerous charges, including attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.
Terrese Colston, 28, has also been charged with carjacking with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and two counts of violation of parole.
Although Colston remained hospitalized Friday, he is being held as a prisoner of the Polk County Jail.
Earlier reports from the Lakeland Police Department indicated the police officer, Alexander Rethwisch, was likely hit by shrapnel, causing minor abrasions, during the exchange of gunfire but upon further investigation it was determined he had been struck by pellets.
“The revolver used by Colston was loaded with 9mm Luger Shotshells, with each round containing hundreds of small metal pellets, much like a shotgun shell,” Sgt. Gay Gross, spokesman for the Lakeland Police Department, said Friday.
“He had the wrong ammunition in the gun,” a Smith and Wesson handgun, Gross said. “One projectile came out and he fired twice more but the two others malfunctioned.”
Rethwisch, 24, was originally treated at the scene by paramedics but later went to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, where it was determined his injuries were not from shrapnel, but from multiple metal pellets hitting him, Gross said.
At least one of the pellets struck him between the eyes and “thankfully, his injuries are non-life-threatening and he is recovering,” Gross said.
The incident started with a man armed with a silver handgun carjacking a silver 2000 Mazda 626 at 7:09 p.m. Wednesday while the victim was parked in a cul-de-sac at 1330 E. Lemon St., according to police.
Five-and-a-half hours later, Rethwisch noticed a car that fit the description and started following it, but then the driver took off speeding.
Affidavits and other reports released Friday indicate a slightly different scenario from earlier reports and news releases the day of the event.
The newly released reports indicate that Rethwisch had noticed the Mazda on Griffin Road turning west onto Pyramid Parkway. Rethwisch’s patrol car had its sirens on and lights flashing when the driver of the speeding Mazda lost control of the car, crashed it and jumped out running across a field at 2215 Interstate Drive.
The officer followed for a short distance in his patrol car but then had to get out and follow on foot. Rethwisch fired his stun gun at the running suspect but it did not stop him and the chase continued.
“The defendant stopped running away from Officer Rethwisch and turned and faced him,” the report said. “The defendant had a silver item in his hand and he raised the item to chest level. Officer Rethwisch could feel shrapnel hitting his body.”
Rethwisch shot back with his department-issued Glock 22 and hit Colston in the right leg near his knee. Rethwisch kept his gun drawn on Colston until backup units arrived and took Colston into custody, the report said.
Colston underwent surgery for the bullet wound later in the day.
Following police department policy, Rethwisch is on administrative leave until an investigation by the Lakeland Police Department Professional Standards Unit is completed.
Marilyn Meyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7558.