PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Sheriff Bill Prummell held a press conference earlier today to provide additional information concerning last night's fatal shooting of Sergeant Michael Wilson at the Lakes of Tuscana Apartments.
On Monday at about 8:07 pm, the Sheriff’s Office received a call of a physical domestic disturbance at one of the apartments within the complex. Deputies were dispatched to the scene. Sergeant Wilson responded as a back-up officer but was the first to arrive.
The initial report indicated that the suspect was being physical with his wife and adult age son. The caller indicated that there were weapons in the residence, but they were locked in a safe. There were no indications that weapons were involved in the disturbance or that the suspect was armed.
Immediately upon Sergeant Wilson’s arrival, he was met with gunfire from the apartment above as he was at the bottom of a staircase, which formed what Sheriff Prummell referred to as a “fatal funnel.” Sergeant Wilson was able to call on the radio that shots were fired. He was struck once in the chest with the fatal shot apparently entering above the line of his protective vest.
The suspect went back into the apartment where his family reported he shot himself. That has yet to be official confirmed through an autopsy and forensics. As it was unconfirmed as to the condition of the suspect, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team. They were able to deploy a robot to go into the apartment to confirm that the suspect was apparently deceased.
The deceased suspect has been identified as Jay Jaroslav Vanko, 49, of 24033 Madaca Lane. Although the Sheriff’s Office has been to his residence on two previous occasions for domestic incidents, none of the previous incidents were alleged to be physical. Vanko has no criminal history information available.
There were two firearms located at the scene. No further information is available about either weapon. The investigation into the incident is continuing.
Sheriff Prummell said that Sergeant Wilson had started working at the Sheriff’s Office in 1992, about the same time that he himself began work here. He said that Wilson had worked in a variety of positions within the agency – Corrections, Road Patrol, school Resource, Street Crimes, and Narcotics – and had a well-rounded knowledge of law enforcement. Sheriff Prummell said he would truly be missed.
Sergeant Wilson leaves behind a wife and three teenage children. He requested that the family be given the time and respect to grieve.
Arrangements are being made to set up a trust fund for the Wilson family and information will be sent out when it becomes available.
The viewing for Sergeant Wilson is scheduled for this Friday from 4 pm to 8 pm at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center, located at 75 Taylor Street in Punta Gorda. The funeral will be held on Saturday, August 10 at 10:00 am at the Event Center.
This is the first time in the 92 year history of Charlotte County that a Sheriff’s deputy has died by gunfire in the line of duty. The only other line of duty death was in April 1983 when Deputy Curtis Moore, a motorcycle officer, died as a result of injuries sustained in an on-duty traffic crash.
Many people have inquired as to making a donation to assist the family. Trusts are in the process of being set up for the family. In order to facilitate ease of donation, the Sheriff’s Office has set up a Paypal account for that purpose.
Anyone who wishes to donate to the trust for the Wilson family can go to the Sheriff’s Office’s main public website at www.ccso.org to find a hyperlinked button for this specific Paypal account.
The Sheriff’s Office appreciates the outpouring of support from the community during this tragic time.