CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.- Today we're working to find out more about the night Charlotte County Sergeant Michael Wilson was shot and killed.
The Sheriff says suspect Jay Vanko was hitting his wife and son when deputies were called. Sgt. Wilson was the first to arrive at the Lakes of Tuscana apartments. The apartment he was responding to was on the second floor, and as Sgt. Wilson went to walk up the stairs, deputies say Vanko shot him right above his bulletproof vest.
This morning, Sgt. Wilson's family and friends are remembering him as a hero.
"I'm going to remember him as a brother officer. He's truly going to be missed. He was unique, one of a kind...," said Sheriff Bill Prummell.
Charlotte County officials say Sgt. Wilson is the first ever to die by gunfire in the office's 98-year history. Deputies have been called out twice to the Vanko home for domestic disturbances.
Deputies tell us 49-year-old Jay Vanko owned firearms and was a trained marksman who performed in shooting competitions.
Neighbors say the Vanko family would walk their poodles outside, and were friendly. Charlotte County deputies say Vanko had no criminal record, and Monday night's domestic disturbance was the first one that was physical.
"When I found out, it shocked me." Joe Anthony can't believe a man he used to chat with at the community pool is dead and accused of gunning down a deputy. "The first thing that went through my mind was the families involved, both sides," he said.
Anthony says he knew the 49-year-old was familiar with guns. "The only thing that he told me was that he servied in the military in Czechoslovakia. He didn't tell me what he did, I had no idea."
He described the suspected shooter as a "nice guy" who used to work in landscape, and would offer to fix people's computers.
Incident reports obtained by WINK News show deputies responded once to the residence for a disturbance in 2011, and on June 28th of this year for a fight between Vanko and his wife Janka.
Vanko told deputies his wife was drinking and they got into a fight about marital issues.
Anthony says he never noticed any kind of tension or rocky relationship when he lounged with Vanko and his wife at the pool. "Your normal couple you know, very affectionate toward each other, touchy feely type thing," he said.
Anthony says the suspected shooter has a teenage son in junior ROTC. He says the son has military aspirations like his father, wanting to becoming a member of the Air Force.
Funeral arrangements are now set for Sgt. Wilson. The viewing is scheduled for Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center in Punta Gorda. The funeral will be Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. at the Event Center.
Due to the elevated security at the Event Center and the congestion in downtown, members of the general public are asked to view the services from their homes. Downtown Punta Gorda will be very congested on Saturday. Punta Gorda Police Department is handling the parking and traffic control in the area, and will be closing down various roads Saturday morning. If you will be flying out of the Punta Gorda Airport on Saturday, expect major traffic delays.