According to Clearwater Police Deputy Chief Donald Hall, several people who had spotted a Facebook Live broadcast of a man driving and threatening to take out a police cruiser, or possibly a building occupied by police, had called in. The calls started at around 4:26 p.m. Thursday from all over the area, with some calls coming from as distant as California.

Police secure the building in case of attack

Hall said they immediately secured the front doors of the building, placing additional officers close to the building and evacuating people in the area as a precaution. Meanwhile, officers had tracked down the suspect, driving a black Jeep Cherokee, in downtown Clearwater, where he refused to follow their commands.

This led to a Police chase in an attempt to stop what they believed was a public threat.

Driver turns on to Clearwater Beach

As reported by Bay News 9, during the police chase the man, identified as 27-year-old Ryan Stiles, took evasive action to avoid traffic at Clearwater Beach by driving on to the beach itself, where he mowed down several beach chairs, narrowly missing families enjoying the day on the beach. The chase eventually led to Caladesi Island, where police finally stopped Stiles and took him into custody. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident and Halls said there were indications that the driver had been drinking heavily.

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Witness on Clearwater Beach saw the incident as it happened

One witness on Clearwater Beach said they had just finished playing volleyball when it happened, as the driver came very close to the volleyball courts. Jeff Vance continued by saying it was unreal and that several people were walking across the beach at the time and the driver came close to hitting them. Once the car was out of sight again, he said you could still hear sirens for around 10-15 minutes.

Facebook Live video streamed the whole incident

Stile’s Facebook Live video stream, which is included below, went on for more than five minutes and was full of profanity (which has been beeped out). It also showed Stiles drinking at various times from a bottle of Canadian Mist and a beer can. Meanwhile, the video received more than 42,000 views on Facebook overnight, with at least 500 shares.

Former girlfriend speaks of Stiles' drinking problem

The Tampa Bay Times quotes Stiles’ former girlfriend, 21-year-old Chelsea Patterson, as saying she doesn’t believe he was planning to hurt anyone. She said he just wanted attention. She said they had broken up three months ago as he could not control his drinking.

Stiles had reportedly told his friends he wanted to start over and one friend, Sarah Lynn Wright, tried to help him. She was looking for a tenant for a room in her mother’s house, and when she saw Stiles looking for a place to stay on Facebook, she reached out to him. However, she never imagined their new tenant would end up in jail. Wright said she thought she could help Stiles, but obviously she couldn’t.

Driver facing several charges

Now according to Clearwater Police, Stiles is facing a DUI charge, along with reckless driving, driving with a suspended driver’s license, threatening a public servant, and felony criminal mischief, along with other possible charges. Police are still investigating Stiles’ previous criminal history, and he is due for his first court appearance on Friday.