Businesses, customers remember tense moments during Punta Gorda standoff

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

A three-hour standoff shook downtown Punta Gorda on Tuesday. It ended with 51-year-old James Currie under arrest.

Whether it was in the air or on the ground, all eyes were on the gray GMC Sierra left with nowhere to go, surrounded by deputies.

James Alan Currie, 51. Credit: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office

The driver, Currie, had firearms within reach, sparking the standoff. For those who work nearby, it was three hours of uncertainty.

“I have like really bad chronic anxiety, so I was like sitting in the bathroom like on the floor crying, rocking back and forth. Like, what’s going on? Am I going to die?” said Destiny Donovan.

“I turned to the left, and I see this officer. He turns to me, looks at me, and says, ‘turn back around! Go back to where you came from!’ I’m like, ‘OK.’ So I turned around and ran in here, and I’m just like, ‘guys, guess what’s going on,'” said Stephan.

Employees and clients at J. Merkai Beauty Emporium said deputies gave them strict instructions to either evacuate or hide inside, lock all the doors, and stay away from the windows.

“As long as we stay on that side of the building, we’re good,” said Donovan.

Deputies had an arrest warrant from Collier County for Currie stemming from a home burglary on Monday. When Charlotte County deputies spotted him, they tried to pull him over.

Instead, surveillance video from Celtic Ray shows Currie cutting through the parking lot before he came to a stop.

Max Doyal, co-owner of the Celtic Ray, saw it all. “He was sometimes… he had his hands out. Sometimes he had it in. Which I guess is why the cops had their guns up. They didn’t know what he was going to do. And he just looked like he had two decisions to get out of the car alive or not.”

On Wednesday, a judge set bond for Currie at $575,500 for a host of charges.

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