A Florida concealed carry permit holder shot and killed a man earlier this week who was attacking a Lee County sheriff’s deputy.
Eyewitnesses told NBC2 that the suspect had been driving over 100 MPH on I-75. The deputy—who was later identified as Deputy Dean Bardes—gave chase, and the suspect pulled over on an off-ramp.
The details have yet to surface, but apparently the suspect got out of his car, approached Bardes, and began attacking him. It isn’t clear why Bardes wasn’t able to defend himself, but the suspect managed to “throw [the deputy] to the ground and punch him in all different directions,” one eyewitness said.
At this point, a civilian approached with a handgun drawn, but the suspect refused to get off Bardes. The deputy “kept yelling, ‘shoot him, shoot him, shoot him,’ and then he shot him,” said another witness. “I think approximately three shots were heard.”
The suspect, identified as 53-year-old Edward Strother, died later that day, but Bardes will be able to make a full recovery.
Witnesses seem to agree that it was a good shooting. “There was a lot of other lives that he was putting at risk, including mine and my daughter’s,” Nicole Ambrosini told ABC7. “I saw a car approaching me from behind at a very fast rate,” which then “swerved onto the shoulder on the left side and had to have been around 120 miles per hour,” she said.
Shanta Holditch, another eyewitness, said the suspect “refused to get off the officer… He just kept beating him and beating him.”
“[The permit holder] gave him two warnings,” said Gord Holditch. “Get off the officer or I’ll shoot. Get off the officer or I’ll shoot. And then he shot him.”
The permit holder is not likely to face charges, NBC2 reports. “From what I’ve been able to gather, I think this is a perfectly legal defense of others and he should be applauded for it,” said Attorney Scott Goldberg.
Interestingly, eyewitnesses also said they saw another man approach the scene from another side. They believe he had a gun as well and was prepared to help. They said they saw him take cover as the shooter shouted warnings to the suspect.
Police closed the off-ramp for more than twelve hours as investigators gathered evidence. NBC2 reports that the sheriff’s office had planned a press conference for Monday afternoon, but canceled at the last minute. Police say they’re waiting to notify the suspect’s next of kin before releasing any additional details.
No word yet on the identity of the permit holder.