Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputy shot in Bradenton; suspect dead

Posted by MARC R. MASFERRER on April 14, 2014 

By AMARIS CASTILLO and JAMES A. JONES JR. Bradenton Herald

MANATEE -- Sheriff's deputies Monday shot to death a suspect in a bank robbery after he first shot and wounded an 18-year veteran of the department who was trying to arrest him, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

About 11:25 a.m., deputies responded to a robbery at Florida Bank, 3704 84th Ave. Circle E., near the intersection of University Parkway and Tuttle Avenue.

Witnesses told deputies that a man armed with a gun and demanded, and received money, before fleeing in a white pick-up truck, according to a news release.

"Several minutes later, Lt. Bob Mealy spotted the suspect vehicle heading north on 15th Street East. The suspect vehicle continued north and then turned around and headed south on U.S. 301," the release states.

Deputies twice used stop sticks to try to stop the vehicle.

Eventually, the vehicle stopped in the 5100 block of 33rd Street East, a couple blocks north of State Road 70.

"As deputies approached the vehicle, the suspect fired a shot and struck Lt. Mealy," the release states. "Deputies returned fire and multiple rounds were exchange between the suspect and deputies."

After the shooting stopped, deputies carefully approached the truck.

"We had a few members of our SWAT team arrive with a ballistic shield," said Sheriff Brad Steube. They approached the vehicle ... it was obvious the suspect was deceased. My guess would be a gunshot wound."

"There was a number of rounds being shot by the suspect and obviously another round that was being shot by law enforcement," Steube said.

"We're very fortunate that there was only one person that was injured."

The name of the suspect was not immediately released.

In the release, the sheriff's office said money was found in the truck but it had not been confirmed if it was from the bank robbery.

The sheriff's office said Melay, 52, was shot in the right arm. He was treated and released from a local hospital, and is expected to recover fully from his injuries.

The shootout disrupted activity near the busy State Road 70/U.S. 301 intersections.

Motorists were urged to stay clear of the area. Florida Highway Patrol said 33rd Street East north of State Road 70 is closed.

A witness told the Bradenton Herald he heard the gunshots as he sat in his car outside a nearby McDonald's.

Brian Gayheart said at least one tire on the truck was flattened, and that deputies were ordering people inside to show their hands.

After the shooting, Gayheart shot some video of the scene from about 100 to 150 yards away.

This is a developing story. Will be updated as details become available.

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