A Florida sheriff’s deputy had an armed citizen to thank for saving him from a motorist who was assaulting him.
The Lee County deputy pursued the driver on Interstate 75 exit in Estero when the driver did not comply, taking off in the car at speeds reaching over 100 miles an hour, WZVN reported.
Both drivers stopped on an exit ramp and the suspect then began attacking the deputy, according to witnesses.
“I saw the deputy and the suspect out of their cars with the doors both wide open and they were some type of altercation,” Nicole Ambrosini, who saw the scene unfold, told WZVN.
“He just kept beating him and beating him,” Shanta Holditch, another witness, said. She described how the suspect pulled the deputy out of his patrol car, “throwing him to the ground and punching him in all different directions.”
According to Deputy First Class Dean Bardes, who called for help as he was being attacked, the suspect was armed, WINK reported.
A passing motorist with a Concealed Weapons License then exited his vehicle and warned the suspect he would shoot him if he didn’t stop beating the deputy, sources told WINK. When the suspect did not comply, the passerby shot him three times.
“I heard like three shots. He fell down on top of the police officer,” a witness who would only give his last name, Smith, told WZVN. “After a moment, the police officer rolled him back over, got on his mic, then rolled over back on the ground besides the guy.”
The suspect “refused to get off the officer and the officer kept yelling, ‘shoot him, shoot him, shoot him,’ and then he shot him. I think approximately three shots were heard,” Holditch told WZVN.
The suspect later died but video filmed by a witness showed an emergency crew giving him CPR at the scene.
Bardes, a 12 year veteran of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was not shot but was treated and released from Lee Memorial Hospital, WINK reported.
The incident closed the exit and caused miles of traffic backup for hours along the interstate.
“I was just trying to get out of the way, but I got surrounded,” Smith said.
“The guy that protected, shot the bad guy, was a guy that pulled over on the ramp and saw the guy beating the officer. He pulled out his gun.”
A news conference by Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott scheduled for Monday afternoon was canceled, according to WZVN. Deputies were reportedly attempting to notify the suspect’s next of kin before releasing any information.
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