Earlier this week a civilian in Florida saved the life of a Lee County Sheriff’s deputy when he shot a suspect attempting to kill the officer with his bare hands. The incident occurred after a high speed chase along I-75 met a roadside accident. The suspect, 53-year-old Edward Strother, exited his vehicle and attacked a deputy attending an accident near Mile Marker 126.
Rick Maestas was in his car and watched the events unfold. he told WINK News,
There was a high-speed pursuit on the left shoulder when I got off the ramp…there was a man on top of another man …they were struggling for a little bit then I heard three shots…then the man who was sitting on top of the police officer fell to the side…the police officer got up, he was exhausted and laid back down, then help came.
The good Samaritan with a CCW, who remains anonymous, saw the attack and acted immediately. After drawing his weapon he ordered the suspect to get off the deputy. When the suspect refused, the civilian fired three shots, all hits, and killed the suspect. According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the deputy involved in the incident was Deputy First Class Dean Bardes, a 12-year veteran. Deputy Bardes suffered minor injuries.
Today the Lee County Sheriff has joined his Florida community to support the hero who chooses to remain anonymous. In a post of Facebook Sheriff Mike Scott writes,
A note from Sheriff Mike Scott:
Earlier this week, two heroes met on I-75 and while they had never met before, one would save the others life. I was at the hospital when the ambulance arrived, the rear doors opened, and my Deputy Dean Bardes was unloaded on a stretcher. Bloody from a vicious attack by a driver Bardes had stopped for endangering the lives of other innocent citizens in our community, the Medics wheeled him into a treatment room. Joined by others from our team, I was there when his wife and family arrived with fear and concern for their loved one as the E.R. team worked on him.
Ironically, this was the first day in a while that Deputy Bardes was alone on patrol because as a Field Training Officer, he typically has a recruit riding with him to learn the business. A business that has seen an increasingly alarming rise in attacks and killings perpetrated on cops. A business that has fallen victim to false narratives like Ferguson where the good guys have been painted as the bad guys by a vocal minority that refuses to allow facts and evidence to get in their way. A business that is the last line of defense between good and evil.
On behalf of the men and women of the LCSO, I thank Deputy Dean Bardes for his bravery and pray for a full recovery.
I thank the E.R. staff and E.M.S. for their immediate attention to Dean, and I thank the many witnesses to this event who stopped to assist our Detectives. I thank my good friends at “Shoot Straight” who realized that the hero’s gun was taken as evidence and immediately gave him a brand new firearm. Above all, I thank the hero that recognized the imminent threat, rushed to Deputy Bardes’ aid, and ultimately stopped that threat.
In a day and age where race is a near instant focus for media and other pundits in police incidents, the fact is that this hero happens to be a man of color who stopped another man of color from further harming or killing a white cop; thereby reminding us that black lives matter, blue lives matter, and indeed all life matters. We at your Sheriff’s Office remain proud to serve and focused on the mission.