SWEETWATER, Fla. - A man was arrested Thursday, days after he claimed he was shot at in Sweetwater while campaigning for Sweetwater mayoral candidate Jose Diaz, authorities confirmed.
Ricardo Rodriguez, 54, faces charges of falsifying a police report and disorderly conduct.
Local 10 News reporter Roy Ramos was in Sweetwater as Rodriguez was walked out of the police station Thursday afternoon and placed into the back of a police car to be taken to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
He told Ramos, "No," when asked whether he fired the shots into his van.
Rodriguez's van has become a rolling campaign ad for Diaz, and Rodriguez claimed the van was shot at as he drove down Southwest 106th Avenue and Sixth Street around 9:45 a.m. Sunday.
"Obviously, this is something that has been fabricated," Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez said Tuesday at a news conference.
Lopez wasn't buying Rodriguez's story and said it might be a political stunt, pointing out that Rodriguez did not report the shooting until the next day and only did so by telling a city commissioner.
"It's really sad when you have to fabricate stunts like this to try to play victim, to try to win a political race like this," Lopez said.
Rodriguez said he didn't initially report the shooting because he was scared of police retaliation.
At Tuesday's news conference, Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz said the agency was apolitical, but he questioned how the bullet holes in Rodriguez's van could be so consistent with one another when the van was supposedly moving when the alleged shooting occurred.
On Thursday, the police chief confirmed the Police Department's investigation into Rodriguez's story and a review of surveillance video in the area proved Rodriguez's claims were false.
"He allegedly claimed that he was shot at at a certain location at a certain time. I can tell you that after a thorough investigation and review of multiple pieces of evidence, including video footage and others, it was found that there was so many inconsistencies that there was probable cause to arrest him for falsifying a police report," Placido Diaz said.
Lopez's opponent, Jose Diaz, initially defended Rodriguez this week, calling the incident "an act of terrorism."
He is not being investigated in the case.
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