AVON PARK — A Sebring man has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly taking out a gun and firing at another man during a a fight.
Joshua Florentino Rayos, 24, also faces weapons charges, including felony possession of a weapon, given a record of seven felony convictions in the state of Florida.
He is currently being held without bond at the Highlands County Jail on an attempted premeditated murder charge and charges of firing a weapon in public, improper exhibit of a firearm and possession of a weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon.
Arrest reports state that at 1:15 p.m. Monday, a 30-year-old Avon Park man was walking down Glacier Avenue in Avon Park toward a friend’s house when a vintage dark green Jeep Cherokee drove by him, reportedly driven by “Shorty,” later identified as Rayos.
The man later told Highlands County sheriff’s deputies that he and Rayos had issues over a racial statement made between them.
The Jeep turned around three houses away, reports said, and came back toward the man, who cut through a neighboring yard to get back to his own house. The Jeep reportedly drove through the neighbor’s yard, toward the man as he fled, and parked on a concrete slab on the north side of the neighbor’s house, facing the victim’s home.
As Rayos got out of the Jeep, the man threw his arms in the air and shouted, “What do you want?” reports said.
That’s when Rayos walked up to them and they started fighting, reports said.
Allegedly, Rayos kept reaching into his front pants pocket. Believing he was reaching for a knife or gun, the man put distance between them and ran to grab a machete he had in his yard.
He later told deputies he only meant to scare Rayos off his property, and yelled for Rayos to leave.
Rayos did, reports said, but when he reached the Jeep, he pulled out a black firearm, pointed it at the man and fired. Reports by more than one witness said he fired several times.
The man told deputies he feared for his life as soon as he saw the gun, and he took off running. He hid behind a shed three houses away, reports said.
Several witnesses spoke with deputies and corroborated the man’s story.
Deputies found Rayos at 1 a.m. Tuesday at his Sebring home, along with the Jeep — parked a few houses away — and several rounds of .38-caliber and .22-caliber ammunition beside where he was sleeping.
He denied all aspects of the incident, reports said, including whether or not he had a dark green Jeep. When asked if he wasn’t driving his father’s vehicle, he didn’t answer, reports said, and later refused to answer any more questions.
Rayos’ record dates back to charges of burglary, grand theft and possession of burglary tools from an incident on April 18, 2012, when he was five months away from age 17, according to Highlands County Clerk of the Courts records.
Conclusion of that case and several others, according to court documents, was done on Feb. 24, 2016.
He was sentenced to 48 months on the burglary, grand theft and tools charges.
He was also sentenced that day to 48 months on a 2013 case of criminal mischief and grand theft.
Also, on Feb. 24, 2016, Rayos was sentenced to 48 months for being found guilty of a 2014 battery in a county jail or detention facility, a third-degree felony.
Rayos was found guilty on Feb. 24, 2016, of petit theft in a 2014 case.
Rayos also received a guilty judgment for a 2015 charge of introduction of contraband into a detention facility or jail, with a sentence of 48 months.
Lastly, he was found guilty on Feb. 24, 2016, of a 2015 battery in a detention facility, also with a 48-month sentence.
He had other charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, battery in a jail facility and attempted carjacking that the State Attorney’s Office dropped in 2014 and 2015.