ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Jon Folbrecht, a Martin County sheriff's deputy and former St. Lucie County sheriff's Explorer, started a petition drive this weekend to rename Midway Road after the late sheriff's Sgt. Gary Morales.
"This would be a tremendous tribute in his honor," Folbrecht said Sunday. "His family would be able to see it for years."
Morales, 35, was shot and killed Thursday morning after a routine traffic stop around 9:28 a.m. on Naylor Drive, a neighborhood south of Edwards Road, according to sheriff's officials.
Folbrecht, 31, put forth the idea Saturday afternoon on Facebook and reached his goal of 1,000 names the first day. By Sunday afternoon, he counted 3,926 names.
Folbrecht said he originally proposed Oleander Avenue, a busy street that runs near the shooting site, be renamed Gary Morales Memorial Highway.
On Sunday, however, some family members and other Facebook users requested the road be changed to Midway Road, where the Sheriff's Office is, rather than the area of the shooting.
"Please, I'm Gary's sister-in-law," Shayna Morales wrote. "On behalf of the brothers and parents' request, that would be wonderful if we could petition for Midway Road."
Folbrecht said he never met Gary Morales, but said his wife, Kasey, is a St. Lucie County school-resource officer and has often recalled Morales as a "really good" colleague.
Kasey Folbrecht couldn't be reached for comment.
Folbrecht said he hopes to present his petition to the St. Lucie County Commission at its March 12 meeting.
For Chairman Tod Mowery and Commissioner Frannie Hutchinson, however, it's still a little too soon after the shooting to think about long-term tributes.
"As with any request, I would have to evaluate it," Mowery said. "It's still a fresh wound in everyone's minds."
Hutchinson said she supports honors and tributes, but said she may be in a better position in a few weeks to consider one for such a recent incident.
But the politics isn't a problem for Folbrecht, he said. He lives in Okeechobee County, and ran in 2012 against incumbent Okeechobee County Sheriff Paul May.
"I've had some recent experience with politics," he said.
Here is the link to the Facebook page .
Here is the link to the online petition .
Sign the guest book for Sgt. Gary Morales http://bit.ly/WDwLit