BROOKSVILLE, FL – On Tuesday, February 02, just after 7 a.m., Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the intersection of E. Jefferson Street and N. Broad Street in the City of Brooksville for what was originally thought to be a hit and run traffic crash. Callers reported seeing the driver of a red flatbed pickup truck strike a small car, then flee eastbound on Jefferson Street. Upon arrival, deputies met with the victim, who was driving a small silver car, and several witnesses who were still on scene. The victim was extremely shaken and unable to provide an immediate statement.
In separate interviews, witnesses told deputies they observed a red flatbed truck travelling northbound on N. Broad Street in the area of Mt. Fair Avenue when the driver suddenly made a U-turn in the middle of the road. The driver of the truck continued southbound to the intersection of N. Broad Street and E. Jefferson Street where he purposely struck the small silver car and pushed it for several feet.
In obvious fear, the lone occupant of the car, the female driver, exited the car and ran in an easterly direction. The driver of the red flatbed pickup truck, later identified as Kenneth Michael Lengel Stage, exited his truck and ran after the female. Stage quickly caught up to the female, wrapped his arms around her from behind, lifted her off her feet, and began carrying her back toward his truck.
Several concerned citizens began screaming at Stage to “put her down.” After carrying the female almost 20 feet, Stage dropped her, ran to his truck, and fled the area. Deputies were eventually able to interview the victim who provided the same account of events, adding that she and Stage were known to one another.
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A warrant for the arrest of Stage was immediately authored. The warrant was then signed by the Honorable Judge Merritt, and deputies continually searched for Stage throughout the morning and early afternoon. Just after 1 p.m., deputies observed Stage’s truck in the area of the Quality Inn near I-75 and Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville, where he’d reportedly been staying. Stage fled in the truck when he spotted law enforcement.
Florida Highway Patrol Troopers quickly apprehended Stage just inside Pasco County. Kenneth Michael Lengel Stage, 22, was charged with attempted kidnapping and aggravated assault. He was offered no bond. The Florida Highway Patrol also has charges pending on Stage.