A 33-year-old man whom authorities said led law enforcement agencies on a three county chase on Interstate 95 was heard shouting in Arabic after threatening to harm an officer and shoot down a helicopter, reports show.
When arrested, the man told officials he sympathizes with ISIS and began yelling in Arabic, including “Allahu Akbar,” which means Allah is the greatest, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.
Andrew Peter Kleopa was charged with reckless driving, fleeing and eluding, threatening a life or to assault, resisting arrest without violence and trespassing on a posted construction site. While en route to the jail, Kleopa made more threats, saying to a highway trooper that he would “rip his eyes out and shove them up his (expletive)” and “dissect him like a frog.”
Kleopa, of Palm Beach, is being held at the Indian River County Jail on $14,000 bond. The high-speed, multi-county chase led authorities to issue an alert to motorists after Kleopa was seen driving recklessly and making multiple erratic lane changes.
The Florida Highway Patrol called in the Sheriff’s Office, Fellsmere Police and Sebastian Police to help with the search.
Troopers received several calls about 9 a.m. Feb. 9 of a vehicle driving recklessly on I-95, an arrest report states. Callers described the vehicle as a white Land Rover SUV traveling northbound at a high rate of speed, passing vehicles on the shoulders and changing lanes erratically.
A witness told emergency officials that the SUV collided with a grey Sedan and kept traveling north near Indrio Road in St. Lucie County. Troopers were able to get behind the SUV after passing State Road 60.
Troopers alarmed the siren to conduct a traffic stop, but the SUV kept traveling at 120 mph in a 60 mph construction zone, where workers were present. The SUV then accelerated to a speed of more than 145 mph. The driver, later identified as Kleopa, made gestures using his arm outside the front driver’s window.
Kleopa continued to drive northbound at a high rate of speed while passing vehicles on the shoulders, troopers said. Officials ended the pursuit because of Kleopa’s continued reckless driving.
About 11:20 a.m., the vehicle was spotted driving southbound from Brevard County entering Indian River County, troopers said.
Troopers searched the area of County Road 512 and I-95 and found the SUV parked behind the McDonalds at 9495 108th Avenue. They saw Kleopa run north, cross CR 512 and enter a heavily wooded area that was marked “no trespassing” and was under construction, troopers said.
A sheriff’s K-9 unit and helicopter, a Sebastian K-9 unit and officers and Fellsmere officers using ATV’s helped to search the area for Kleopa. A trooper went to Kleopa’s home and spoke to his mother, who said that Kleopa was “depressed and manic.”
The trooper then called Kleopa on his cell phone, where Kleopa said he was “going to shoot at the helicopter and officer.” A K-9 unit tracked Kleopa to the Indian River County Shooting Range, 10455 102nd Terrace.
Kleopa was arrested about 1:40 p.m. He told authorities he was a CIA agent and said that “Muslims are not that bad.”
Kleopa was taken to the county jail. He was previously charged with reckless driving twice in 2013 and leaving the scene of a crash in 2007, both out of Palm Beach County. He also received several speeding citations.
Kleopa has an arraignment at 8:30 a.m. March 14 in court, court records show.