In a year marked by catastrophic losses for American police departments, A motorist driving on I-75 in Florida, Monday, stepped up in what may be the ultimate show of support for law enforcement.
The man shot and killed an armed suspect who was attacking a Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy on the side of the highway.
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Deputy First Class Dean Bardes had responded to a crash on I-75. It isn’t completely clear what happened next, but Bardes is said to have seen the suspect’s vehicle driving recklessly, and attempted to pull him over. This resulted in a high-speed chase on the highway.
When the chase ended, both the deputy and the suspect exited their vehicles, and a fight began. The motorist, seeing the altercation, stopped, exited his vehicle, and drew his firearm. At that point, the assailant was on top of the deputy, and punching him repeatedly.
A witness reported that the deputy instructed the bystander to shoot the suspect. The man, licensed to carry his firearm concealed, issued a verbal warning. He told the suspect he would shoot if he didn’t stop assaulting the deputy. When the suspect refused to stop his attack, the man shot him three times.
The wounds proved fatal. An emergency crew that responded to the shooting performed CPR, but the man died. Deputy Bardes, who had cried out for help, was not shot. He was taken to the hospital, treated, and released.
There are no indications that Bardes fired his weapon. Though reports suggest that the suspect was armed, no details have been released on that, either.
Though there’s no official word on how the initial pursuit began, deputies were seen searching the median of I-75 in both directions near where the fight took place. The incident closed a section of the highway for nearly nine hours, resulting in massive traffic delays.