Davenport, FL – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) released video on Monday that showed an armed suspect opening fire on Florida deputies last week and said that a deputy’s life was saved by his ballistic vest and a St. Michael religious medal (video below).
The incident occurred just after 10 p.m. on Oct. 12 when two deputies responded to a domestic disturbance at a home in Tanglewood Preserve subdivision, WJXT reported.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said that 41-year-old Gabriel Batista had been aggressively calling, texting, and banging on the door of his estranged wife’s home until she finally called 911 for help, WTVT reported.
Sheriff Judd said Batista had left by the time deputies arrived, but he returned while they were still there talking to his wife and a child inside the house spotted him.
Home security video showed PCSO Deputies Nicole Lyons and Harodis Nunez tried to approach and talk with the suspect – 41-year-old Gabriel Batista – in the front yard of the home, but the suspect put his hands behind his back and began walking backwards away from them.
The sheriff’s department said both deputies gave Batista multiple warnings and ordered him to show his hands but he ignored them, WJXT reported.
The video showed Batista continued to back away from the deputies and walked behind an SUV that was parked at the curb in front of the residence.
When Deputy Lyons deployed her Taser in an attempt to subdue the suspect and take him into custody, Batista pulled out a 9mm pistol, WJXT reported.
The videos showed Batista opening fire on the deputies.
PCSO said Batista fired six shots at the deputies and Deputy Nunez fired back once, WTVT reported.
One of Batista’s shots struck Deputy Nunez in the center of his chest, WJXT reported.
Sheriff Judd said the bullet was stopped from ending the hero’s life by his ballistic vest and a St. Michael medal that the deputy wore all the time, WTVT reported.
“It was a blessing because our deputy was wearing a bulletproof vest, and he was wearing St. Michael’s medallion that he says he never leaves home without,” the sheriff told reporters. “As a result, he has a scuff mark on his chest, we believe is where the bullet struck through the vest to the St. Michael’s and that’s what caused the scratch.”
He said that Deputy Nunez’s gun jammed after he fired one shot at Batista, WTVT reported.
But once the deputy fired a shot at him, Batista quickly surrendered and was taken into custody.
Sheriff Judd said Batista had confessed to shooting Deputy Nunez at the scene, WTVT reported.
“Tell the deputy I’m sorry I tried to kill him,” the sheriff said the suspect told him.
But Sheriff Judd said that Batista had told his family that night before deputies arrived that he intended to kill himself by forcing the law enforcement officers to shoot him, WTVT reported.
“I’m sorry the gun jammed,” the sheriff said. “He needed shooting a lot and we would have fulfilled his request and it would have been his last request. Now, our goal is to send him to prison for the rest of his life upon conviction.”
Deputy Nunez was transported to the hospital for an evaluation and later released.
Batista was arrested at the scene and has been charged with first-degree attempted murder, WTVT reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: