BRADENTON BEACH – Rick Jeffrey Rowland, 43, remained in jail Saturday afternoon after being arrested on felony charges of carjacking and exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office website.
The charges stem from a Wednesday morning incident that started at Coquina Beach and ended a few minutes later with a multi-vehicle accident on the south side Longboat Pass Bridge on Gulf of Mexico Drive in Longboat Key.
The Bradenton Beach Police Department investigated the criminal charges and the Longboat Key Police Department investigated the accident that resulted in non-life-threatening injuries and no fatalities.
The police report written by Bradenton Beach police officer Steven Masi and released Friday afternoon states the carjacking occurred in the 1400 block of Gulf Drive South – which is part of Coquina Beach. The victim was Parrish resident Bradford Mackenzie, 56, whose occupation is listed as medically retired. The stolen car was a silver 1998 Chevy Corvette and the report lists 11:46 a.m. as the time of the incident.
“I was dispatched to the listed location of a man who was the victim of a carjacking. The description of the carjacker fit a known transient that I have dealt with in the past and earlier this day,” says Masi’s report, which lists Rowland’s address as “homeless.”
While in route, Masi was advised of a crash involving several cars on the Longboat Pass Bridge, including the stolen Corvette. Lt. John Cosby proceeded to the crash scene while Masi attended to Mackenzie.
“I was met by victim Bradford Mackenzie and several witnesses. It was very clear that Mackenzie was unnerved due to what had just taken place. Once Mackenzie settled a bit, he explained what took place. He was putting items in the trunk of his Corvette when he felt a strike of some sort to the back of his head. He looked up, dazed and confused, at who he described as a tall white male wearing a dark baseball cap and tattoos. The male was screaming “Give me your (expletive) keys or you’re gonna get hurt worse.’
“He said at that point he was still in complete shock that this was happening to him,” the report says, noting that Rowland then “snatched the key forcefully from his hand and pushed him.”
Mackenzie told Masi he tried to stop Rowland from taking his car but was no match due to his handicapped condition.
Rowland then sped off at a high rate of speed, headed south on Gulf Drive toward Longboat Key. Several witnesses observed the incident and one captured some of it on video.
Cosby informed Masi the suspect was in custody and known as Rick J. Rowland.
Rowland was transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital after being identified by Mackenzie as the person who stole his car.
Masi and Officer Randy Hodo from the Longboat Key Police Department proceeded to the hospital. Rowland was released with bruised ribs and Hodo issued Rowland citations for improper passing (bridge), reckless driving and driving while license suspended. Rowland was transported to the Bradenton Beach Police Department for processing and paperwork and was arrested.
“Rowland kept saying how sorry he was for what he had done. That love made him steal the vehicle and this is not him. He was worried about the child that was in one of the cars he hit during fleeing of the crime scene,” Masi’s report says.
Rowland was transported to Manatee County Central Jail and bond was set at $17,500.
According to Det. Sgt. Lenard Diaz, Rowland was a former liveaboard boater in the anchorage near the Bridge Street Pier.
The Longboat Key Police report states the Corvette hit a black Toyota SUV driven by Eduardo Quintana, who had three passengers with him. Three additional vehicles, including a box truck, also crashed as a result of what was happening on the bridge. The box truck driver was unable to stop in time, struck the vehicle in front of him and was cited for following too closely. The bridge was completely blocked to traffic because of the crashed vehicles and debris.
According to the report, the Corvette was traveling southbound at a high rate of speed and passing vehicles on the bridge. Rowland collided with the rear of Quintana’s vehicle when avoiding a head-on collision with a northbound vehicle.
“Eduardo stated the vehicle crash happened very fast and the impact was very hard. After the impact he noted some of his family members had been injured,” the report says.
Rowland tried to drive the damaged Corvette away but it came to a stop near the sidewalk. Quintana ran to the vehicle and restrained Rowland as he tried to leave on foot. Longboat Key Police then arrived and took custody of Rowland, according to the report.
“Rick stated to Officer Vogt, ‘I stole the car,’ ” the report says.
Quintana’s passengers were transported to Sarasota Memorial and treated for their injuries. The female driver whose car was struck by the box truck was transported to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton.
Masi’s report notes he was dispatched earlier that day to conduct a welfare check of Brandi Martin at 117 7th St. N., Apt. 25, in response to a notification from a concerned friend who stated Martin may need help because of Rowland.
“We have had several calls to the above location over the week,” Masi’s report says.
“She told me Rowland was acting crazy and she no longer wanted him around in fear of her safety. Rowland told Martin she needed to come with him to go pick out a sports car, something bright and flashy. Martin said Rowland wanted to steal a sports car from somewhere on Bradenton Beach or Longboat Key/St. Armand’s area, but she wanted no part of it.
“Just then, Rowland walked into the house. He was asked to collect his things and not return per the request of Martin. Rowland complied by gathering his items and walked out. He strapped his duffel bag to the back of his motor-powered bicycle and rode off. Approximately 15 minutes later, I saw Rowland at the Circle K store at 103 Gulf Dr. S. Not more than 10-15 minutes had passed and the dispatched call of carjacking came out,” Masi’s report says.