PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy is being treated for a gun shot wound to the face after a heated interaction with a member of the MS-13 gang.
Reports indicated that the 29-year-old deputy was spending his birthday tracking a known gang member near the Turnbury apartments and the Abbey Road shopping plaza on the northbound side of Military Trail. Authorities had been investigating the known criminal for months.
The team of deputies had a search warrant for the suspect’s apartment and vehicle as well as four warrants for his arrest. When he finally pulled into a parking lot and away from the public, they sprinted into action.
Deputies in tactical gear swarmed the suspect’s car in the lot, yelling to identify themselves as they approached the suspect. That’s when he opened fire.
Authorities noted that the suspect was armed with a revolver and managed to squeeze two or three shots off, striking the young deputy in the cheekbone.
DEVELOPING RIGHT NOW | A suspect is dead and a deputy is hurt after a shooting at a Palm Beach Gardens apartment complex.@AndrewLofholm is live on the scene watch WPTV RIGHT NOW for updates. pic.twitter.com/LIobQWJbJ4
— WPTV (@WPTV) May 17, 2019
The tactical team immediately returned fire, killing the suspect. He died with his gun still in his hand.
The injured deputy was transported to St. Mary’s Medical Center where he underwent emergency surgery. Doctors noted that the bullet was lodged in his cheekbone. An additional surgery is planned for Friday, but medical experts expect him to make a full recovery.
“The bottom line is you see all these people in law-enforcement officers across the country getting killed every single day,” Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said. “Because these gang members, they don’t have the slightest hesitation to kill a law-enforcement officer anymore.”
The night of the shooting was the deputy’s 29th birthday.
“Happy birthday to him,” said Bradshaw in a news conference Thursday night. “He’s a lucky man.”
Breaking: A suspect is dead and a @PBCountySheriff deputy is in the hospital after being shot in Palm Beach Gardens. Deputy expected to be okay.
Suspect was shot by authorities.
— Andrew Lofholm (@AndrewLofholm) May 17, 2019
Neighbors close to the shooting commented on the deadly exchange.
“You just heard that unmistakable sound, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop. Enough to where it sounds like fireworks but enough to know it’s that gunshot,” said a neighbor who heard the shots. “Just 20 cop cars come streaking out.”
Neither the deputy nor the suspect have been identified by authorities as of yet, but the sheriff wants people to know that local authorities aren’t backing down from the threat of gangs in their neighborhoods.
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“(MS-13) is not the biggest (in Palm Beach County), but it’s not the smallest either. It’s something we’ve been working on. And this is one of the pieces of the puzzle we’ve been working on to get into this gang to try to find out what they’re doing because they’re trying to get a stronghold and we’re not going to let them,” Bradshaw said.