An armed civilian in Estero, Florida is being credited with potentially saving Sheriff Deputy Dean Bardes’ life on Monday after the officer was seen being assaulted. The civilian took matters into his own hands when he saw the officer needed help.
The suspect who was beating Bardes led police on a high-speed chase along southbound I-75 before the altercation erupted. Witnesses said they believe the man was going at least 120 miles per hour.
Authorities say the armed citizen shot the suspect to death after the suspect refused to surrender. The shooter, who wasn’t named yet at the time of this article, held a valid Concealed Weapons License, according to police.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Witness Saw the Suspect Tackle Bardes to the Ground
The deadly confrontation began when Deputy First Class Dean Bardes, a 12-year veteran of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, was at the scene of an accident and witnessed the suspect driving recklessly.
Bardes pursued the driver for several miles before the suspect got out of his car and attacked the deputy, Blue Lives Matter reported.
“I watched the suspect jump out of his car and run toward the officer and tackled him,” a woman who said she was a witness said, according to Leo Affairs.
Nicole Donna commented on a Facebook post after the suspect drove past her:
The suspect drove right past me on 75, he was cruising the shoulder lane doing at least 120. Traffic was heavy and slow moving. He mistakenly flew by a deputy who then chased him for a good 3 exits. I knew this wasn’t going to end well. Praying the deputy is ok.
2. The Suspect Was Reportedly Killed by the Armed Bystander During the Struggle
Rick Maestas, a witness who spoke with WINK News, said he saw a high speed pursuit on the left shoulder of I-75. He told the station that he then saw a man on top of a police officer before hearing three gunshots. The suspect then fell over to the side and then Bardes was able to get up.
Blue Lives Matter reported that the concealed carrier “exited his vehicle and instructed the suspect to stop beating the deputy.” When the suspect refused, the passerby shot the man three times.
The suspect died from injuries sustained in the shooting. A witness shot a video that appeared to show emergency personnel trying to revive the man:
The suspect was armed, Bardes told his supervisors, according to sources.
3. Bardes Is Expected to Make a Full Recovery
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said that Bardes is expected to be okay.
Although Bardes was heard crying for help, he was not shot, sources told Blue Lives Matter. He was treated at Lee Memorial Hospital and then released.
Bardes was seen exiting the hospital in bandages and shaking hands with and hugging other deputies as he left, WINK News reporter Britni McDonald said:
It is not clear if Bardes ever discharged his firearm.
4. The Concealed Carrier Is Being Hailed as a Hero on Social Media
The armed citizen in the case is being hailed as a hero online, and the public is crediting conceal carry laws for cases like this which otherwise may not have ended as well. Many are also referencing the turn of events as an example of how officers should be treated by the public.
“When a good guy with a gun saves the day two words rise above all other rhetoric – ‘Thank You!'”, Doug Linda Jones posted to Facebook. “Enough said.”
“If the rest of the country would follow suit, we’d be in a much better place,” J Scott Bennett wrote. “Get your ccw. Use it when needed. Help the police instead of fighting them.”
“It could have ended completely different without an outstanding citizen with a CCW,” Jacqueline Goldstein stated. “Thank you sir for stepping in and helping an officer in trouble.”
5. Research Shows Concealed Carry Laws Help to Reduce Crime
According to Gun Owners of America, states which have passed concealed carry laws have seen several reductions in crime. The company’s website reads:
States which passed concealed carry laws reduced their murder rate by 8.5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7% and robbery by 3%; and If those states not having concealed carry laws had adopted such laws in 1992, then approximately 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, 60,000 aggravated assaults and over 11,000 robberies would have been avoided yearly.
The site also said an innocent citizen in Florida “is far more likely to be attacked by an alligator than to be assaulted by a concealed carry holder.”
Heavy reached out to Gun Owners of America. Larry Pratt talked about a proposed bill in regards to concealed carry, and said stories like this can only help their stance. He stated:
This story illustrates the importance of conceal carry. And hopefully will contribute to the passage of a bill, especially now since we have a republican president who’s probably likely to sign it…a bill that has been in the works for a few years sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). Basically it would say that if you have a conceal carry permit in your state of residence, then it would have to be recognized the same way in other states as a driver’s license. It’s relying on that section of the constitution that requires states to recognize the acts of other states.
*This story is being updated as information becomes available.