An attempted robbery gone wrong last week in Davenport, Florida, spiraled into a deadly encounter as another chapter in the dangerous underworld of the illegal drug trade and deadly weapons. Late in the evening of December 19 at the Tropicana Resort Motel, what appeared to be the beginning of a run-of-the-mill drug deal turned lethal when Harold Sepulveda-Cruz attempted to rob Christian MacDonald using a crudely fashioned fake gun.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd outlined the events leading to the fatal shooting in a detailed press briefing. MacDonald intended to purchase marijuana from Robert Rafael Cruceta Pimentel when he found himself in a life-threatening situation orchestrated by Cruceta Pimentel and Sepulveda-Cruz. The pair appeared to plan to rob MacDonald using a fake firearm put together using a screwdriver duct-taped to a piece of wood.
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Things turned violent during the transaction after Sepulveda-Cruz — who had remained hidden in the car — attacked MacDonald from behind, demanding his money and drugs. Faced with imminent threat, MacDonald was legally armed at the time under Florida’s new Permitless Carry Law and later told officers that he felt he was faced with an imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. He drew his 9mm handgun and shot Sepulveda-Cruz in self-defense, killing the drug dealer.
Judd used the case to show the public the immense dangers that go along with what might feel like relatively minor illegal drug transactions. “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,” the sheriff told reporters.
After the shooting, the surviving dealer, Cruceta Pimentel, was charged with second-degree murder and several other counts. He worked desperately after the botched robbery to conceal the shooting and death of Sepulveda-Cruz. However, MacDonald immediately called 911 to report the incident and cooperated fully with law enforcement officers, directly assisting them in locating Septulvda-Cruz’s body and apprehending Creceta Pimentel.
Sheriff Judd cautioned the public to remember the case as “another example of how dangerous illegal drug transactions can be.”