HAVANA, FL – A deputy in Florida is recovering after being in a harrowing experience on November 16th after being rammed by a suspect in a vehicle and then shot. Thankfully, the suspect is in custody and the deputy will recover.
The incident all began just before noon when the suspect, later identified as 38-year-old Dexter Lawson, allegedly jumped into a McNeill Plumbing truck and found the keys hanging in the ignition. Lawson then allegedly pulled out of the parking lot and witnesses called the police.
'A hero': Gadsden County deputy shot by 'career criminal' recovering after confrontation https://t.co/4RdgwvL60P
— National Police Association (@NatPoliceAssoc) November 18, 2021
Gadsden County Sheriff’s Deputy Chicara Hearns happened to be in the area and saw the stolen truck.
While it is not exactly clear what predicated the encounter between Hearns and Lawson, what is clear is that he is accused of intentionally ramming her patrol vehicle. The Florida Highway Patrol released a statement regarding the incident:
“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 sought of Forest Drive North in Gadsden County. The suspect exited the vehicle and fired several rounds into the GCSO vehicle.”
Gadsden County deputy shot 3 times gifted check from colleagues around the state https://t.co/k98E2bRouc
— WCTV Eyewitness News (@WCTV) November 18, 2021
After the shooting, Lawson ran into the woods in an attempt to hide from responding law enforcement that was headed to locate him. As he ran into the woods, Hearns exited her patrol vehicle and walked to a nearby residence for help.
WCTV spoke to those residents, Robert and Melody Rodriguez, who were sitting in their home when they heard several gunshots. Before they could figure out what was going on, they noticed Hearns at their door asking for their help. Melody said:
“I knew she [Hearns] was scared, I could see it in her face.”
Justin and I are praying for a speedy recovery for the @gadsdensheriff deputy that was viciously attacked and shot earlier today. The shooter is in custody and must be held accountable for these horrific acts.
— AG Ashley Moody (@AGAshleyMoody) November 16, 2021
Melody knew that she had to do something to help her but was also scared that whoever had harmed her might be nearby and present a danger to herself and Robert.
Regardless of the risk, Melody became a hero that morning as she decided to help the deputy even though there was a potential risk to her safety. She said:
“Trying to call 911, I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to think. Was he [Lawson] going to come up behind her? I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Melody said that Hearns did not realize at first that she had been injured when they first began talking. Melody said that Hearns leaned back and noticed the injury, telling her that she had “been hit.”
“This particular vest, along with the good lord, saved our deputy,” said Gadsden Co. Sheriff Morris Young.
Deputy Chicara Hearns was shot 3 times yesterday and is now recovering after surgery at TMH. Young says Hearns should be out of the hospital in 5-6 days.
— Savannah Kelley (@SavannahWCTV) November 17, 2021
Melody reported that the 911 dispatcher told her how to treat the wounds until other deputies and medical personnel could arrive on the scene to assist. She said:
“She [911 dispatcher] told me to take her vest off the best I could and apply pressure to the wound.”
As Melody was providing first aid, another deputy arrived on the scene who escorted Hearns to paramedics who were arriving on the scene to transport her to the hospital.
Melody said it was not until long after Hearns left her house, or so it seemed, that she learned Lawson had been taken into custody.
What Melody did not know is, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, roughly 25 Florida Highway Patrol Troopers responded to the area and set up a perimeter in attempts to lock him down.
Once the perimeter was established, a police K-9 team responded and FHP also deployed drones in the area to attempt to locate him while minimizing chances of him shooting another officer.
At some point during the search, Lawson was flushed out of the perimeter and taken into custody without any further reported incident.
Melody and Robert are thankful that they were able to help and even more so when they learned that Lawson was in custody and Hearns is expected to survive.
— WCTV Eyewitness News (@WCTV) November 16, 2021
Melody notes this is not the first time that she has had dealings with Hearns before as she had met her previously when the deputy helped her with some type of family issue.
Melody was so touched by Hearns’ actions at the time, that she gave her an angel pendant as thanks for what she did for the family. Melody said:
“There is no other officer that I’ve met that has such a beautiful spirit as this woman.”
This couple lives in quiet, rural Gadsden County. But this afternoon, seconds after hearing a crash and gun shots, they jumped into action to help treat a wounded deputy.
— Jacob Murphey (@jmurpheyWCTV) November 17, 2021
Gadsden County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Anglie Holmes reported that Hearnes is currently in stable condition after undergoing surgery for the three gunshots she allegedly received when Lawson fired on her.
Gadsden County Sheriff, Morris Young, conducted a press conference in which he praised Melody and Robert for their actions that helped Hearns survive. Additionally, he credits the bullet-resistant vest that Hearns was wearing that helped prevent more serious injuries.
“This particular vest, along with the good lord, saved our deputy.”
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The original incident occurred on the 13th near Shaniko as a deputy with the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office attempted to take the alleged suspect, Logan Cantwell, into custody for an unspecified offense.
Before the deputy could affect the arrest, Cantwell allegedly jumped out of his vehicle and began firing on him. Thankfully, no one was hit by the bullets that Cantwell allegedly fired.
Multiple law enforcement agencies descended upon the area in attempts to get him to bed down. For several hours, search crews scoured the area, including a SWAT team from the State Police. All efforts to locate him failed and the perimeter was shut down.
At one point, on the 15th, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office responded to a possible report of Cantwell as a male, who matched his description, was seen attempting to steal a vehicle in the Corbett and Bridal Veil neighborhoods. The Multnomah Sheriff’s Office issued a shelter in place order for the surrounding areas until they were positive that the suspect was no longer in the area.
The District Attorney for Wasco County, Matthew Ellis, issued a press release concerning Cantwell. His office said:
“Today, Wasco County District Attorney Matthew Ellis announced that Logan Cantwell is being charged with Attempted Murder in the First Degree, Attempted Assault in the First Degree, Attempted Assault in the Second Degree, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, and Attempt to Elude.”
When asked specifically about the case at a press conference, Ellis said:
“When he [Cantwell] got out of the vehicle, he fired shots at the deputy’s vehicle, striking the vehicle multiple times in the driver side area by the windshield.”
When Ellis was asked if Cantwell should be considered armed and dangerous prior to his arrest, he responded:
“He was willing to fire shots at a sheriff’s deputy, and we are afraid that he’s probably going to do it again to avoid capture. I would ask that people do not approach him. Do not try to take justice into your hands. Please just contact law enforcement and give them the most details that you can about his whereabouts.”
News broke of Cantwell’s during the afternoon of November 17th when it was announced by Skamania County Sheriff’s Office. The Undersheriff for Skamania County, Pat Bond, reported that Cantwell was taken into custody without incident following a brief standoff at the Viewpoint Apartments.
Bond noted that it was help from the community that lead them to the Viewpoint Apartments. A regional SWAT team was activated and responded to the scene. Based upon the threat to the community, Bond advised that they issued a shelter-in-place for the community in the Stevenson community.
Bond said that Cantwell will be held at the Skamania County Jail until an extradition hearing can be had which will determine when he will be sent back to Wasco County to answer their charges. In addition to the charges issued by Wasco County, Bond advised that they also held two active felony warrants for theft and one misdemeanor warrant in their county.
Bond expressed gratitude from members of the community as well as the other multiple law enforcement agencies that assisted. Bond noted the FBI, US Marshals, as well as many other local police agencies assisted. Bond said:
“We appreciate the support of our community partners.”
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