WACHULA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Wauchula murder suspect who was considered “armed and dangerous” was captured in North Carolina after a police chase on Thursday.
Mathew Scott Flores was on the run for over a week after he allegedly shot and killed Jose Carlos Martinez in Wauchula on Jan. 24.
Wauchula police said Flores was captured after leading police on a chase through three North Carolina counties on Thursday. The car he was driving belonged to a 74-year-old Lyft driver reported missing in Florida this week, the driver’s daughter told NBC affiliate WPTV.
The driver, Gary Levin, has not been heard from since leaving to pick up a customer on Monday. His family said it is not known if he picked them up or completed the ride.
“For him to go completely off the map, that’s not at all normal,” Lindsay DiBetta, Levin’s daughter, told WPTV.
Rutherford County, N.C. Sheriff Aaron Ellenberg told WPTV the chase began in McDowell County and ended in in Ellensboro, N.C., where Flores ran from Levin’s 2022 Kia Stinger officers before he was taken into custody.
Flores was believed to be using narcotics at the time of the chase and was taken to the hospital to be checked out. He was transported to the Rutherford County Detention Center after receiving medical care.
Flores faces the following charges out of North Carolina:
Felony speed to elude arrest
Flores has been charged with the following offenses in Florida:
Second degree murder
Possession of firearm by convicted felon
Discharge firearm in public
Violation of supervised pretrial release
Flores is being held with no bond for the alleged parole violation and a $615,000 bond for the other North Carolina charges. Sheriff Ellenberg said Flores will be extradited to Florida.
A Florida woman accused of helping Flores evade police has also been arrested. Officers said Stephanie Velgara will be charged as an accessory after the fact for second degree murder.
“As the investigation continues, we will focus on and identify those who aided or assisted Flores to ensure they are charged appropriately for their role with Flores’ flight from law enforcement,” The Wauchula Police Department said in a release.
Wauchula detectives will travel to Rutherford County to assist with their investigation.
According to DiBetta, her father’s car was seen in several cities around Florida before it ended up in North Carolina. It was reportedly spotted in Miami, Okeechobee and Gainesville.
A Lyft spokesperson provided the following statement to WPTV regarding Levin’s disappearance:
“Our thoughts are with Mr. Levin’s family and loved ones during this deeply concerning time. We’ve been in touch with his family to offer our support, and have reached out to law enforcement to offer our assistance with their investigation.”Lyft