GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A Jacksonville man was arrested after he crashed into a Clay County Sheriff’s Office patrol car Monday afternoon after he reportedly carjacked a company van in Middleburg and led deputies on a high-speed chase along County Road 218 and State Roads 16 and 17.
Aaron Cole Beckworth, 33, was charged with armed carjacking, attempting to flee without regard for the safety of others and driving without a valid license after deputies said he sprayed pepper spray in the eyes of a man who was putting gasoline in his Pickett Electric, Inc. van.
Beckworth took off with the van, but was quickly discovered by the sheriff’s office. The pursuit involved several CCSO patrol cars. Several drivers reported suffering damage after being run off the road.
“I didn’t know what was happening,” said a woman who said she ran off S.R. 16 to avoid being hit by Beckworth. “I thought he was going to hit me.”
Beckworth said he side-swiped a Dodge pickup during the chase and the pickup knocked his side mirror off.
The left-front tire went flat on S.R. 17 in front of Garber Automall. He pulled into the median, struck the CCSO cruiser and immediately surrendered.
During an interview with CCSO, Beckworth admitted stealing two other cars from A-1 Towing on Joe Johns Road in Middleburg. He met with another man at the BP gas station on C.R. 218 to return a car. He said the other man fired a shot at him, so he ran across the street to the Shell station and stolen the van while the man was pumping gas.
Beckworth’s bond was set at $250,003.