Florida sheriff says deputies killed a gunman in shootout that wounded 2 officers

Apr 28, 2024, 1:52 PM | Updated: 2:34 pm

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Two Florida sheriff’s deputies were seriously wounded and the man who shot them was killed when a gunfight erupted at a public park, according to the sheriff.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd praised his deputies as heroes, saying they were shot while trying to pull an uncooperative man from his car after he refused commands to get out on his own. They spotted the vehicle early Saturday in a county park after it had closed for the night.

Judd told reporters Saturday that preliminary information from investigators indicated the slain man shot first.

“He asked for a gunfight, we gave him a gunfight,” the sheriff said. “And he’ll never be in another gunfight again, because he’s dead.”

Lt. Chad Anderson was hospitalized in critical but stable condition after a bullet passed through his arm and entered his chest, Judd said. Deputy Craig Smith was in stable condition in intensive care after being shot four times in the right arm, according to the sheriff.

Both deputies responded to a colleague’s call for backup after the man in the car refused to cooperate when the colleague tried to question him, Judd said. The sheriff’s office had ordered extra patrols in the area because there had been a series of thefts from cars.

Before the shooting began, a total of four deputies and two trainees were trying to get the man to exit his vehicle. Judd said Anderson and Smith were at the car’s door trying to pull the man out when the man pulled a gun and opened fire, the sheriff said. The deputies fired back.

The sheriff did not immediately release the name of the man killed in the shootout.

Brian Haas, the state attorney whose judicial circuit includes Polk County, said his office is investigating.

“We want to move as quickly as we can, but being thorough is the most important thing,” Haas told reporters.

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Florida sheriff says deputies killed a gunman in shootout that wounded 2 officers