Havana, FL – The Gadsden County sheriff’s deputy who was shot on Tuesday is stable and recovering after surgery and now more details have been released about what led up to the shooting and what happened afterwards.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) said the incident actually began at about 12:05 p.m. on Nov. 16 at a Hardee’s restaurant in the 5800-block of North Monroe Street near Lake Jackson in Leon County, WCTV reported.
A cook at the Hardee’s was out back and saw a man pull up on a bicycle about the same time that a plumbers’ truck pulled into the parking lot and the passengers went inside the restaurant.
The cook said the workmen went into the bathroom and the man who had arrived on the bike bolted out into the parking lot and stole the work truck, WCTV reported.
The vehicle was reported stolen to police.
A short while later, a Gadsden County sheriff’s deputy spotted the stolen truck while she was responding to a call, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
“At approximately 11:45 a.m., a Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) Deputy was intentionally rammed by a suspected stolen vehicle on Jamieson Road just south of Forest Drive North in Gadsden County,” the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) said in a statement. “The suspect exited the vehicle and fired several rounds into the GCSO vehicle.”
The suspect fled into the woods and the wounded deputy made her way up to a nearby residence to ask for help, WCTV reported.
Melody and Robert Rodriguez said they heard a loud bang and then multiple gunshots just moments before the wounded deputy walked up to their front door and asked for help.
“I knew she was scared, I could see it in her face,” Melody said.
The couple told WCTV that they were terrified as they helped the wounded hero.
“Trying to call 911 I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to think,” Melody said. “Was he going to come up behind her? I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
She said she didn’t think the deputy knew how badly she was wounded at first, WCTV reported.
“She leans back and she said, ‘I’ve been hit,’” Melody recalled.
The Rodriguezes called 911 and dispatchers coached them on giving First Aid to the wounded deputy while law enforcement and an ambulance raced to the scene, WCTV reported.
“She told me to take her vest off the best I could and apply pressure to the wound,” Melody said.
Another deputy arrived quickly and helped the wounded deputy walk out of the Rodriguez home on her own two feet, WCTV reported.
She was rushed to the hospital and taken straight into surgery.
The Rodriguezes said they waited for news afterwards terrified because they worried the man who had shot the deputy would come back for them.
“I knew he was out there with a gun,” Melody told WCTV.
About 25 FHP troopers swarmed the area and set up a perimeter, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Troopers called in a K9 unit and sent up drones to search the area.
The armed suspect – identified as 38-year-old Dexter Antonio Lawson – was flushed out of the woods and arrested, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
The Leon County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) initially booked Lawson on a charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle.
Charging documents noted that Lawson had later been involved in the incident in Gadsden County and said charges were pending on that, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
FDLE is heading up the investigation into the deputy-involved shooting.
The couple who helped the deputy told WCTV it wasn’t the first encounter they had with her because she’d assisted them in a family matter about a month earlier.
“There is no other officer that I’ve met that has such a beautiful spirit as this woman,” Robert said.