Search under way for gunman who shot SunRail worker

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Investigators are looking for the man who shot a SunRail inspector after he tried to order the gunman off the railroad tracks in Seminole County.

The shooting happened shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday near Ronald Reagan Road and North Street near Longwood.

The train tracks were closed for more than two hours as crews searched the wooded areas around the tracks for the shooter.

”(I) heard something that either sounded like a rivet gun or a sledgehammer dropping on the railroad tracks," said witness Cody Shoaff.

Shoaff said shortly after hearing the noise, he saw a SunRail worker in a blue shirt stumbling on the tracks with a bullet wound.

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said it all started with the worker telling a man who was sitting on the tracks to move.

"He approached the individual to get off the tracks for safety purposes," said Heather Smith of the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

Instead, the man said he wouldn't leave unless the SunRail worker paid him, according to investigators.

"He demanded money, pulled a gun and shot him once in the stomach. The contractor was able to leave the area, he ran away," Smith said.

Investigators said the shot was at close range, but the worker was able to deflect the gun somewhat and his wounds aren't life-threatening. He was able to walk himself to the ambulance.

Lina Patel and her husband own the Sunoco gas station across the street. They said they believe they've seen the shooter before and told deputies he'd been hanging out near the tracks for the last two days.

"He's the only one who's on the railroad track all the time," said Lina Patel.

The Patels believe the man is homeless and said they even had to trespass him from their store Monday.

"He was begging from the customers so my wife told him to leave and we haven't seen him since then," said Andrew Patel.

The Sheriff's Office said it will be checking nearby businesses Wednesday to see if any of them have surveillance that may help their investigation.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.