Photo: Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office / Courtesy
Authorities arrested and charged in Florida the Hispanic construction worker who fatally ran over deputy police chief of Pinellas County with a forklift.
After about nine hours of persecution, agents intervened with the undocumented Juan Ariel Molina Salles, 32 years old.
Molina Salles would have hit Michael Hartwick, 51, around 11 pm Thursday in the area of Interstate 275 and Roosevelt Boulevard.
Hartwick was in the construction area patrolling traffic. when it was hit by the front loader of the machine.
Hartwick had parked his official vehicle to block two interior southbound lanes and was standing on the shoulder of the northbound highway when he was struck.
The construction machine used to erect concrete barriers was traveling at 20 miles per hour. Hartwick died instantly.
About 100 police officers and K9 teams spent hours searching for Molina-Salles.
“After a nine hour chase Directed by law enforcement officers from local agencies, PCSO K9 and our air unit, Molina was located by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office hiding in a brush area,” PCSO said.
The WFLA report notes that the Hispanic had been denied entry into the United States at the border with Mexico.
“He re-entered across the border, he’s here illegally, and he’s been in the Tampa area since March of this year,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.
Along with Molina Salles, Elieser Aurelio Gómez Zelaya, another Archer Western employee, is also accused. Gómez Zelaya allegedly also hid Molina Salles’ work uniform. Gómez Zelaya’s immigration status is unclear.
Both suspects identified themselves by other names to investigators..
Molina Salles faces charges for leaving the scene of an accident which involved a death, while the other mason he was accused of being an accessory after the fact.