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Lee County Sheriff adds deputies to street racing task force following Lehigh Acres shooting

Teen arrested and charged with shooting elderly couple
Sheriff Carmine Marceno
Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-07 16:02:07-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Lee County Sheriff's Office says it has tripled the amount of deputies on a street racing task force following the shooting of an elderly couple in Lehigh Acres.

Deputies arrested the suspected shooter, 17-year-old Armando Cruz, on Monday morning. The couple was heading to Key West and drove up to the intersection of Homestead Road and Milwaukee Boulevard on Sunday morning around 4 a.m.

Sheriff Carmine Marceno says members of a car club blocked their truck.

"A mob broke away from the larger group and surrounded the victims' truck and boat and began to hit, punch and kick the vehicle," he said during a press conference on Tuesday morning.

Moments later, a video released by LCSO shows a man, later identified as Cruz, shooting the couple through the driver's side window as they tried to drive away.

"I don't know how you can sleep at night knowing you shot at a 74 and a 70-year-old," said Cody Langford, grandson of the couple.

Video of the scene and other evidence led to Cruz's arrest in Cape Coral on Monday morning.

"There’s a note that we investigate and that note puts our suspect in the place where we have established probable cause for his arrest," Marceno said.

Videos released on Tuesday shows the car club doing donuts at the Lehigh Acres intersection earlier that morning and other areas across Lee County. It's why Marceno says he's increasing law enforcement's presence.

"We implemented this task force and are tripling the number of deputies initially assigned to it," Marceno said. "That task force is comprised of investigators, intelligence, violent crimes, major crimes, patrol. We’re going to be out in full force."

It's a move people in Lehigh Acres told Fox 4 on Monday they wanted to see happen.

"We just need more police coverage, bottom line," said Lori Smith, who lives in Lehigh Acres.

Marceno says he's focused on Lehigh Acres following the shooting, but the Sheriff addresses similar calls throughout the county.

"We routinely increase the number of deputies on the roads when we have reason to believe these car clubs are meeting," he said. "Off the top of my head, I know Alico Road gets calls."

He says those calls and ones from the shooting coming in Crime Stoppers helps them solve cases like this.

"We will continue to investigate this horrendous incident," Marceno said. "This could’ve happened to any person."

The task force is a response Langford is grateful for after all that has happened to his family.

"I'm fortunate enough to have the toughest grandpa in America," he said.

The Sheriff's Office also arrested 19-year-old Robert Moya and 22-year-old Saviok Wood for aggravated rioting. Marceno says they're going to make more arrests.

Cruz is no stranger to law enforcement. He was arrested back in July 2022 for allegedly beating a wheelchair-bound man in North Fort Myers. A video showed two teenagers beating the man and throwing a trash can at him.

Armando Cruz will be charged as an adult in the crime including attempted murder of the elderly couple. His bond is set at 190K.

The teenagers said the man verbally harassed them prior to the incident. They were arrested for battery on a disabled person. Because the suspects are not an adult, more information about the case is not available.