Florida Man Killed During Attempted Robbery With Fake Gun

Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County states that a pre-planned robbery with a fake gun outside a Davenport motel turned deadly for the suspect late Tuesday evening.

Deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office reported that the shooting took place in the parking lot of the Tropicana Resort Motel at 43420 Hwy 27 just before midnight. Sheriff Judd provided details about the shooting in a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The sheriff explained that the robbery victim, Christian MacDonald, called his drug dealer, Robert Rafael Cruceta Pimentel, to buy an eighth of an ounce of marijuana. Detectives verified that Cruceta Pimentel agreed and met up with MacDonald at the motel.

The victim and Cruceta Pimentel got into the car together and negotiated a deal for the marijuana, but officials said Harold Sepulveda-Cruz was also waiting nearby at a convenience store. Once Cruceta Pimentel got in the car with the victim, Sepulveda-Cruz jumped into the back of the car behind MacDonald.

The sheriff’s office reported that Sepulveda-Cruz placed a fake gun made with a screwdriver and a piece of wood to the back of the victim’s head and started hitting him with it. MacDonald pleaded with Cruz not to shoot him, but the suspect demanded the marijuana and money, according to authorities.

Sheriff Judd explained that MacDonald reached into his pocket, took out a 9mm handgun and fired ten shots behind him toward the suspect. The suspect was hit by the gunfire and killed.

MacDonald and Cruceta Pimentel stepped out of the vehicle, with deputies noting that Cruceta Pimentel eventually took hold of the fake gun and marijuana, throwing them over the fence at the motel.

Judd mentioned that MacDonald then called 911 to report the robbery and the shooting. He added, “If our robber, Harold Cruz, as the information came to us, was high on drugs that night and needing to hit a lick for a quick fix, if his buddy had just loaned him $100, he’d still be alive today. So while Robert had $900 in his pocket, he sat there while Harold got shot over a $140 and an eighth of an ounce of marijuana.”

The Polk County sheriff confirmed that Cruceta Pimentel has been charged with second-degree murder and felony murder, along with nine additional charges. He has been denied bond.

Sheriff Judd affirmed that MacDonald has not been charged with a crime despite the drug deal. The possibility exists that “stand your ground” applies to this case, but the investigation is still ongoing.

The sheriff clarified that while MacDonald has previous arrests, he is not a convicted felon. According to the sheriff, MacDonald was legally carrying the handgun at the time of the shooting under Florida’s new Permitless Carry Law.

The sheriff also noted that Sepulveda-Cruz did not have a criminal history prior to the incident.