An unidentified man was shot and killed while exchanging gunfire with Indian River County Sheriff’s Deputies Friday night during a pursuit south on Interstate 95.
The Sheriff’s Office expects to release the name of the suspect after his next of kin is notified.
“We are proud of the actions of our deputies last night,” said Sheriff Deryl Loar. “Our dispatchers and aviation team did an outstanding job of providing our deputies on the ground with information they needed to make good split second decisions, preventing this wanted subject from further endangering the public.”
According to the Sheriff, during the shootout between the suspect and deputies, one of the rounds fired by the suspect struck the headrest of a deputy’s truck. That deputy had moved out of the way, and was not hit. The Sheriff surmised a hit would have been fatal for the deputy.
“Our entire team acted heroically and are to be commended for their efforts to protect our community,” Loar said.
The Sheriff’s Office learned of a pursuit heading south on I-95 from Brevard County. That county’s Sheriff’s Office dispatch notified Indian River County that the fleeing vehicle was headed toward the area.
The vehicle stopped at a rest area between Sebastian and Palm Bay, during which two passengers exited. One passenger was an adult, the other a 17-year-old, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Brevard authorities took the two passengers into custody for questioning. They informed investigators that the driver had active warrants and was considered armed and dangerous – in possession of an AR-15 and a handgun.
The Brevard dispatch informed Indian River that the driver was in a pickup truck pulling an open flatbed trailer and that the driver had pulled back onto I-95 and continued south toward Sebastian.
Warned of the incoming fleeing suspect, an Indian River deputy in an unmarked patrol truck deployed stop sticks at the county line and then fell in behind the suspect vehicle. Other units worked to clear much of the southbound traffic in the area while the suspect truck traveled at low speeds.
The truck hit the stop sticks and the tires began to deflate, according to the Sheriff’s Office. By mile marker 152, the truck tried a wide turn through the median but a K-9 deputy was able to block the attempt, using his own patrol vehicle. The K-9 deputy then followed the truck into the median.
The suspect then began firing several rounds at the deputy as well as the unmarked patrol truck – almost striking that deputy in the head.
Neither deputy was injured in the shootout, though the suspect was struck and killed.
According to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect had active warrants in Brevard for violating probation and drug charges. His criminal history dates back to 1996, the Sheriff’s Office said, and includes more than 20 arrests on felony charges and more than 10 arrests on misdemeanors. He had been convicted on seven felonies.
The deputies involved in the shootout have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, in keeping with protocol, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Authorities recovered the suspect’s AR-15 and observed drugs in plain view. A further search of the vehicle is pending the execution of a search warrant expected sometime this week.
Published May 24, 11:18 p.m.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A deputy-involved shooting closed Interstate 95 in both directions late Friday, authorities said.
Deputies said a pursuit began in Brevard County and ended in Indian River County, near the 152 mile marker. The shooting involved Indian River County deputies, though no deputies were hurt, authorities said.
It was not immediately clear if the shooting was fatal. Northbound and southbound I-95 will be closed in the meantime, deputies said.
.@IRCSheriff at scene of Deputy involved shooting at mile marker 152 on I-95 in IRC. Still unclear if shooting was fatal, though no deputies were harmed. More details were expected to be released Saturday. #VeroNews pic.twitter.com/RcYDyyFuv4
— Nicholas Samuel (@JournalistNickS) May 25, 2019
Southbound traffic should exit at Fellsmere while northbound traffic should exit at Vero Beach. It was unknown when the roadway would reopen.
More details on the shooting were expected to be released Saturday.