Murder suspect in car of missing Lyft driver leads high-speed chase in NC, cops say

  • In US
  • 2023-02-03 17:47:35Z
  • By Miami Herald

A 35-year-old murder suspect led North Carolina deputies on a high-speed chase across multiple counties in the car of a missing Florida Lyft driver, authorities and family say.

The man, Matthew Scott Flores, was driving the car of Gary Levin, a 74-year-old from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, who has been missing since Jan. 30, police and Levin's family said.

Palm Beach Gardens Police said Levin drives a 2022 red Kia Stinger, and the car was last reported seen on Feb. 1 in Gainesville, Florida, about 260 miles away from where Levin lives.

Family members told WPBF they suspect someone took his car since the circumstances don't "add up." They said the car had previously been spotted in Okeechobee and Sumter counties, both miles away from Palm Beach Gardens.

"I can't imagine him going and picking someone up in Miami and then going to Okeechobee? Like that would be, you know, he would let his girlfriend know. They had dinner plans on Monday night, and he never came home," Levin's daughter Lindsay DiBetta told the outlet.

Lyft told the family that Levin had picked up a rider in Delray Beach he was supposed to take to Okeechobee, arriving around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 30, according to CBS12.

A Lyft spokesperson also told the outlet that the company has "been in touch with his family to offer our support, and have reached out to law enforcement to offer our assistance with their investigation."

Flores was driving a red Kia with Florida tags as he led North Carolina deputies on a chase on Feb. 2, Rutherford County Sheriff Aaron Ellenburg told WLOS.

Deputies said they stopped Flores, but once out of the car, he fled on foot before they could take him into custody. They also suspected Flores was under the influence of narcotics and transported him to a hospital where he was evaluated before being taken to the Rutherford County Detention Center.

WLOS reporter Samiar Nefzi was on the scene following the chase and confirmed the red Kia was Levin's in a tweet on Feb. 2.

Flores was wanted on charges of second-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and discharge of a firearm in public and was on pretrial release in Florida.

He is accused of fatally shooting a man and fleeing the scene on Jan. 24, the Wauchula Police Department said. Officers at the time said he "should be considered armed and dangerous."

He was also wanted on charges of a parole violation, evading arrest and driving while intoxicated in North Carolina.

It is unclear how Flores came into possession of Levin's car, and the investigation is ongoing. Levin is still a missing person.

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