Sheriff: Bulletproof vest saved Florida deputy shot in chest

DAVENPORT, Fla. (AP) — A bulletproof vest saved a sheriff’s deputy who was shot in the chest while investigating a report of a family disturbance at a central Florida home, officials said Thursday.

The shooting happened around 10 p.m. Wednesday in Davenport, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in video posted on Facebook.

Judd said the suspect, Gabriel Batista, 41, was not at the home when two deputies arrived. They were talking to the victims when Batista came back to the home.

“The suspect drove past two marked patrol cars, got out of his car and confronted my deputies in the front yard,” Judd said.

The sheriff said Batista had his hands behind his back and refused to show them, prompting one deputy to aim a gun at the suspect while the other deputy prepared to use a stun gun on him.

“As soon as we went to tase him, he shot my deputy in the chest,” Judd said. “Fortunately our deputy was wearing a bulletproof vest. The vest saved his life.”

A deputy returned fire, but did not hit Batista, Judd said. Batista fell to the ground, tossed his gun aside and was arrested.

Judd said the deputy was taken to a hospital where he was in “great” condition. He was expected to be released later Thursday, the sheriff said.

Batista will be charged “appropriately,” Judd said.

“Our goal is at upon conviction that he spends the rest of his life in prison for trying to murder my deputy who was simply standing in the gap between good and evil,” the sheriff said.

It was not immediately known whether Batista has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

The sheriff said additional details about the shooting will be released later Thursday.

Earlier this month, Polk County Deputy Blane Lane, 21, was fatally shot while serving a warrant. Investigators believe he was killed by friendly fire from deputies.

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