Crime

Feds indict man accused of shooting at Coast Guard in Key Largo

A Key Largo man accused of shooting at U.S. Coast Guard crewmen during an Aug. 21 boat chase has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation while he remains in federal custody.

Daniel M. Szabo, 40, is accused of shooting at a Coast Guard patrol boat during a nighttime pursuit through Largo Sound, on the oceanside off mile marker 102.5, a federal complaint filed by a Coast Guard investigator says.

Szabo, while aboard a dinghy, also reportedly threatened suicide and rammed patrol boat's hull. None of six Coast Guard crew members were hit by gunfire but they told the investigator that they heard several shots and saw flashes of light.

Thursday, a federal grand jury in Key West indicted Szabo on a count of trying to shoot and kill federal officers who were making a legal boarding. If convicted, that charge carries the possibility of a life sentence. He also was indicted on three related weapon and resisting-arrest counts.

Federal Magistrate Patrick Hunt on Tuesday ordered Szabo moved from the Monroe County jail to a federal detention center in Miami for a mental evaluation.

The evaluation seeks to determine if Szabo is competent "to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him... [or] as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his act," Hunt wrote.

Szabo's attorney, a federal public defender, did not object to the evaluation.

Witnesses from the Jules Undersea Lodge marina, who called the Monroe County Sheriff's Office around 9 p.m. Aug. 21 , said Szabo was drunk, "waving a gun around and had held it to his own head before taking off in the dinghy," according to the Sheriff's Office.

No gun was found aboard Szabo's dinghy but investigators say it could have been thrown into the water or mangroves during the chase.

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