TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Polk County deputy is “blessed” to have escaped serious injury after they were shot in the chest while responding to a domestic incident late Wednesday night, Sheriff Grady Judd said.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Deputies Harodis Nunez and Nicole Lyons responded to a call at a home in Davenport’s Tanglewood Preserve neighborhood around 10 p.m.
The suspect, 41-year-old Gabriel Batista, had allegedly gotten into a verbal dispute with the homeowner before deputies arrived.
Batista returned to the home a short time later and saw the deputies speaking with the victim and the victim’s child. Batista was ordered to show his hands, which were behind his back, but refused.
When Deputy Lyons tried to use a stun gun on Batista, he pointed a gun at Deputy Nunez and fired six shots, hitting the deputy. The round pierced his bulletproof jacket and struck a religious medallion the deputy always carries with him, Judd said.
“The suspect shot at Deputy Nunez six times,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “He struck him one time center of mass — right in the center of the chest out of the six shots. That was a blessing because our deputy was wearing his bulletproof vest.”
“The vest saved his life,”Judd said earlier.
Deputy Nunez returned fire, but his gun jammed after one shot. A split second later, Batista dropped his gun.
“As professional law enforcement officers do, we quit shooting when he quit resisting,” Judd said.
Batista was taken into custody and charged with attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, written threat to kill, resisting with violence, and discharging a firearm on residential property.
“His stupid choices are going to get him the rest of his life in prison as it should,” Judd said.
Deputy Nunez was taken to an area hospital in good condition and released less than two hours later.
“It was just remarkable to watch his response after he was shot in the chest. He takes the guy into custody and handcuffs him along with Deputy Lyons. He never goes down. He didn’t go out of the fight. He reloaded his gun,” Judd said. “It was a remarkable response.”
It was the second time a Polk County deputy had been shot in eight days.
“I’ve been here a long time,” Judd said. “We’ve had a lot of officer shot over the years and I don’t remember two being shot in an eight-day period off the top of my head.”