30-year-old Bradenton man charged with death of 60-year-old motorcyclist in June crash in Sarasota

Jordan Schopfer allegedly had been ‘huffing’ compressed air before collision

Jordan A. Schopfer. Image courtesy Manatee County Sheriff’s Office

A 30-year-old Bradenton resident has been arrested in Manatee County in connection with a Sarasota vehicle crash in June that resulted in the death of a 60-year-old motorcyclist, the Sarasota Police Department reported this week.

Jordan Allan Schopfer was taken into custody by the United States Marshals Service Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force, Sarasota Police Department Public Information Officer Genevieve Judge noted in a news release.

The Sarasota Police Department Traffic Unit investigated the June incident, she added.

Schopfer allegedly had been huffing compressed air prior to the collision, she noted.

At the time of the crash, Judge continued, Schopfer’s driver’s license was suspended/revoked because he had been found guilty of a charge of DUI with Personal Injury. His license previously had been suspended for DUI counts and for his failure to pay a traffic fine dating to 2020, she wrote in the release. “Additionally, Schopfer was on probation for charges of arson,” she added.

The June 12 crash occurred at 5:30 p.m. in the southbound lanes of the 1200 block North Beneva Road, Judge explained. It involved a 2002 Toyota Corolla and a 2005 Suzuki motorcycle. “The name of the victim is being withheld under Marsy’s Law,” she pointed out, referring to a state law that allows victims of crimes to be protected from identification.

Witnesses told Sarasota Police officers that the motorcyclist was driving southbound on North Beneva Road, while Schopfer initially was heading northbound in the outside lane, Judge continued. Witnesses said Schopfer shifted to the inside lane but made no effort to ensure his car was fully in the lane, she added. “Schopfer continued driving at an angle over the raised concrete median and into the southbound lanes, hitting the motorcyclist, according to witnesses,” Judge wrote.

When officers with the Sarasota Police Department Traffic Unit conducted an inventory of the vehicle that Schopfer had been driving, Judge continued, they found a can of compressed air and a receipt showing that the can had been purchased 12 minutes before the crash.

“Additionally, officers found a bag that had a restaurant-style whipping container inside,” she noted.

During their investigation, Judge continued, officers were able to spot Schopfer on surveillance video, standing inside a store as he purchased a can of compressed air. He was wearing the same clothes that he had on at the time of the crash, Judge added.

This map shows the 1200 block of North Beneva Road in Sarasota. Image from Google Maps

Further, video views of the exterior of the store showed Schopfer getting into the same vehicle involved in the crash, she wrote. “The vehicle was seen on camera nearly hitting a pedestrian in the parking lot as well as rear-ending a parked car,” Judge added.

On June 26, officers with the Sarasota Police Department Traffic Unit developed probable cause that Schopfer “huffed or snorted” nitrous oxide to “get high,” Judge pointed out.

“Initial effects of inhalant abuse are similar to those of anesthetics,” she noted, including  disinhibition and euphoria. “These sensations may be followed by hallucinations and general depression including slurred speech and drowsiness or sleep within seconds to minutes.”

Schopfer is being held without bond at the Manatee County Jail, Judge added. He has been charged with Vehicular Homicide, Manslaughter, and Driving with a Suspended License with Knowledge in connection with the City of Sarasota case.

Previous criminal cases

In searching Manatee County criminal records, The Sarasota News Leader found one case, dating to Jan. 24, 2020, when the Florida Highway Patrol charged Schopfer with DUI Damage to Property in the aftermath of a collision at the Interstate 75 exit ramp located at State Road 70.

Schopfer’s address in that report was listed as 4412 57th St. W. in Bradenton.

When troopers arrived on the scene about 6:15 p.m., the report said, they observed a PT Cruiser with “extensive front damage and a blue Chevy Camaro that had rear end damage.”

The driver of the Camaro told the troopers that she was stopped at a red light when a vehicle struck hers from the rear.

When the officers talked with the driver of the PT Cruiser, the report continued, he told them that he was unable to stop in time because the vehicle had “a stick shift.”

This graphic shows the intersection of State Road 70 and Interstate 75. The Florida Department of Transportation has been improving approximately 6.75 miles of I-75 from north of University Parkway to south of State Road 64, along with the reconstruction of the I-75/State Road 70 interchange in Manatee County. The project is expected to be completed this fall. Image courtesy FDOT

The trooper who wrote the narrative added, “When [Schopfer] was speaking, I could smell the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath.”

After Schopfer was read his Miranda rights, the narrative continued, the trooper asked him how much he had had to drink, “and he said he had one at work” — a mixed beverage with Tequila. “He was slurring some of his words and was swaying as he stood,” the officer noted.

After Schopfer was unable to perform “some standardized field sobriety exercises,” the trooper added, the trooper informed Schopfer that he was being charged with Driving under the Influence.

After Schopfer was in custody, the report said, he agreed to provide breath samples taken with an intoxilyzer. The first sample provided a reading of 0.195, the report added, while the second produced a reading of 0.193. The legal limit for alcohol for a driver in Florida is 0.08.

In November 2012, Schopfer was charged with second-degree arson, the News Leaderalso learned from checking the Manatee County Clerk of Court records. That charge was related to the burning of the interior of a dump truck, the report said.

At the time, Schopfer also was charged with stealing a number of items from the interior and bed of the vehicle, including multiple shovels, rakes, hand tools and a fire extinguisher, the report noted.

Schopfer admitted to the investigating officer that he had been inside the vehicle and that he had taken the missing items because he was angry that the person who owned them had fired him “some time ago,” the report said. He was unaware how the fire started, the report added, but he “stated that he may have had gasoline on his hands …”

In that case, Schopfer pleaded no contest to the charges, which included Burglary of an Unoccupied Conveyance and Grand Theft of a fire extinguisher. In July 2013, he was sentenced to 330 days in jail, to be followed by four years of probation.

He has been charged with violating probation in that case, the court records show.

A third case that the News Leader reviewed occurred on Jan. 30, 2011. In that one, Schopfer was found to be driving with a suspended license because he had failed to pay tickets, the report said. The investigating officer noted that when he ran Schopfer’s driver’s license number and the vehicle’s VIN number through national databases, the officer confirmed that Schopfer’s license was suspended on Nov. 10, 2010. Further, the report said, the officer found that Schopfer had not registered the 1996 Dodge that he was driving.

That incident occurred in the 5700 block of Cortez Road West, the report added.