FORT PIERCE — A St. Lucie County sheriff's deputy was shot and killed this morning during a traffic stop south of Fort Pierce, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.
A suspect, Eriese Alphonso Tisdale, is in custody, according to St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.
Sgt. Gary Morales -- a 13-year agency veteran -- was shot and killed in the 3200 block of Naylor Terrace, Mascara said. He was 35.
At 9:28 a.m ., deputies made a traffic stop on Naylor Terrace, just south of Edwards Road and south of Fort Pierce in unincorporated St. Lucie County.
At some point during the traffic stop the sheriff's office says Tisdale got out of his vehicle and shot Sgt. Morales who was in his patrol car, deputies said.
"It happened in a split second, you had a madman with a gun that was determined to shoot and kill this deputy," sheriff Mascara said.
"Sgt. Morales was shot multiple times," the sheriff said.
Deputies chased Tisdale to Oleander Avenue where they arrested him after he crashed his car.
Tisdale faces charges of first degree premeditated murder, assault on an officer/firefighter/emt, fleeing and eluding and possession of a weapon or ammo by a convicted felon.
Sgt. Morales was transported to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute where he was pronounced dead.
"Today is one of these days that deadly consequences occurred and we lost a hero today," said sheriff Mascara.
Morales is survived by a wife, two children and a brother. The brother also is a deputy with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, Mascara said.
"He (Morales) was a bright young guy," who the sheriff said was passionate about his job.
The area of the 3200 block of Oleander Avenue was closed to traffic for hours for the investigation.
Morales was promoted to sergeant on Jan. 18, 2013.
This was the second police officer in less than 24 hours who was shot. A Port St. Lucie officer was shot Wednesday night while responding to a domestic violence call. (mobile link: http://bit.ly/Z23YFS)
Morales was a native of the Bronx, New York. He was a veteran of the United States Air Force. He joined the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office in October 2000.
The last time a deputy was killed in St. Lucie County was in October of 2005. During defensive tactics training, Master Deputy Joseph P. Hover was injured and later died as a result of complications from surgery.
Tcpalm.com reporters Will Greenlee & Elliott Jones contributed to this report
Click below for video of Morales investigating a suspicious vehicle in a 2008 television show made with the sheriff's office. (mobile link: http://bit.ly/VdXupM)
Statement from Martin County Sheriff William D. Snyder:
It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the tragic death of St. Lucie County Sgt. Gary Morales. All of us at the Martin County Sheriff's Office share in the grief which has hit so close to home and we pray for the family, friends and colleagues of Sgt. Morales. May this tragedy give us all pause to reflect on the value of life, and the importance of expressing our love to family and friends.
Washington, D.C. - Congressman Patrick E. Murphy made the following statement on the death of Sgt. Gary Morales, a 13-year veteran deputy with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, who was shot and killed in the line of duty this morning:
"My thoughts and prayers are with Sgt. Morales' family during this most difficult time. I also want to express my deepest condolences to his extended family at the Sheriff's Office and those in the St. Lucie community, who today lost a hero well before his time to a senseless act of violence.
"Not only did Sgt. Morales valiantly serve his community through his 13 years of service with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, but he also proudly served our country as a member of the United States Air Force. Today, we are deeply saddened by the loss of such a true community hero."