PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- Sheriff Bill Prummell held a news conference to provide additional information concerning the fatal shooting of Sergeant Michael Wilson at the Lakes of Tuscana Apartments.
Here's what he said:
"Yesterday evening, at about 8:08 p.m., deputies responded to a domestic physical in progress at the Lakes of Tuscana and Resort at 24033 Medacah Lane. Sergeant Mike Wilson responded as back-up officer, but was the first one to arrive on scene at the gate at 20:10 hours. At 20:13, he made his way to the apartment where he was immediately met with gunfire by, we believe, the suspect, 49-year-old Jay Vanko. Sergeant Wilson took one shot to the chest, as the suspect appeared to have shot down the staircase toward him and was able to shoot one exposed area that was not covered by his vest. Sergeant Wilson was able to call for additional assistance before succumbing to his injuries. He was transferred to Peace River Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. At this time, our hope... our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his wife Joanne, and his three children Emily, Tyler, and Brandon, and I ask that all of you respect their wishes of privacy during their time of grievance."
During the question and answer portion, Sheriff Prumell said the following:
"We've had prior calls there, two prior calls, of domestic, but nothing physical, and the subject does not have a criminal record that we have found so far."
"Because of the way the apartment was set up, there was only one staircase that was straight up, and basically it's a fatal funnel. We did not want to send any other units up that staircase.
"We had reports that he had possibly shot himself, but again, we were not going to jeopardize other lives."
"With the support of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, they brought their robot down to us, and we were able to deploy a robot into the apartment. We confirmed that he was down before we made entry."
"It was a physical disturbance in progress, a domestic that had turned physical."
"Allegedly the husband was striking the mother and the son."
(Q: Did deputies know the suspect had a gun?)
"There were no reports that a firearm was involved in this. We did know that the subject owned firearms. Allegedly, they were locked up in a safe, but no firearms were called in as being involved with this domestic disturbance."
"He's been a veteran of the Sheriff's Office for I believe it's been 22 years. He started his career close to the same time I did, so I've known Mike for a very long time. He was a good officer. He's going to be missed."
"Anytime we have an incident like this, we do surround the area. We kind of lock it down, keep people out. We were confident that he was still in the apartment. His state though we were not unsure of.
"Like I said, we were told that he possibly shot himself, but we did not know for sure, so we assessed the situation, and we decided to call in Sarasota to help us out with their robot."
"I don't know his involvement in the community. From what I'm being told, he did own several firearms. We're also hearing he was a marxman and competed in shooting competitions."
"Well, I got a lot of good staff. That's kind of how I'm handling it, but we do have staff available through the fire department and through our psychologists that are meeting with members who need to be met with."
"We're also making sure that those members who were first on scene last night do talk to somebody to make sure that their well-being is taken care of as well as the family."
"Right now, everything is happening very quickly. We're working with the family right now to see what their wishes are. Short-term, we will probably have the ceremony on Saturday morning. The details of that will go out as we know them."
(Q: Confirmed that suspect shot himself?)
"That's what it appears right now for of course autopsy results and all that."
"The way Sergeant Wilson was is he was at the bottom of a staircase. The suspect was at the top of the staircase, so he was firing downwards and it got just above where the vest was."
"I'm going to remember him as a brother officer. He's truly going to be missed. He's unique, one-of-a-kind."
"He was road patrol supervisor in our District 4 area."
"He served various roles throughout the agency. Like I said, he started in the jail. He was a road patrol officer. He was a detective. He was a school resource officer. He worked in our narcotics unit, in our street crimes, so he's very well-rounded. He's been all over this agency... Very experienced."
"We are getting them some counseling. We are having them speak to somebody. They are taking it pretty hard, as would be expected."
"There were a couple weapons found on scene. Right now we're trying to determine which one was used."
(Q: How are the others involved in the domestic situation doing?)
"I'm not sure where they are right now. The detectives have been working with them and interviewing them. They are safe. They are doing as good as can be expected as well under the circumstances."
(Q: Have you spoken to Wilson's wife?)
"I spoke to her briefly last night at the hospital. I do have members assigned to her."
(Q: Any indication from family members in the house that he was armed and dangerous before you went in?)
"No. Like I state before, the only info. We had was that there were weapons in the house, because he did have a collection but they were all locked up. Nobody gave us any indication that there were weapons out or involved with the domestic."
"We have responded to the residence for other domestics, but he has no criminal history that we've found so far."
"One was in the apartment I believe and the other one was outside."
(Q: Do you know which one?)
"I believe the mother was inside."
"It was the most difficult thing I've every had to do in my career, and I don't wish it upon anybody."
"All I can do is offer my condolences. Luckily, she was with some family and friends."