ESTERO, Fla. — A passerby shot and killed a person who was fighting with a Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy on Interstate 75 Monday morning.
Deputy First Class Dean Bardes, a 12-year-veteran, was working a crash at mile marker 126 when the suspect came upon him, causing Bardes to pursue him at high speeds, according to multiple sources.
Bardes and the suspect exited their vehicles at the Corkscrew Road exit and a fight started, sources said. The suspect was armed, Bardes told his supervisors, according to sources.
The passerby, who had a Concealed Weapons License, exited his vehicle and told the suspect he’d shoot him if he didn’t stop beating the deputy, sources said.
After noncompliance from the suspect, the passerby shot the suspect three times, sources said. The suspect later died.
Video captured by a witness appears to show an emergency crew giving CPR in an effort to revive the suspect at the scene.
Although Bardes was crying for help, he was not shot, sources said. He was treated and released from Lee Memorial Hospital.
It was unclear whether Bardes fired his weapon.
Deputies spent part of Monday afternoon searching the median of I-75 in both directions between mile markers 126 & 127, sources said. They did not immediately say what they were searching for.
The southbound ramp at Exit 123 reopened shortly after 7 p.m. after it was closed for nearly nine hours, causing a traffic backup for several miles.
Rick Maestas witnessed the events that led up to the incident:
Witnesses have shared what they saw on the WINK News Facebook page:
Experts, including Florida Gulf Coast University criminal justice professor Pam Seay and Fort Myers-based International Firearm Safety Inc. owner Alecs Dean, addressed the passerby’s use of deadly force.
A witness described what happened in the moments leading up to the shooting, and WINK News producer Katie Cribbs spoke about what she saw at the scene:
Here’s video of a chopper landing on the exit ramp, sent by WINK News reporter Andrew Scheinthal:
WINK News reporter Britni McDonald was at Lee Memorial Hospital when Dean Bardes was released. He could be seen wearing bandages and hugging other deputies as he left.