Indian River County deputies are on heightened alert after three deputies were shot at in an ‘ambush style’ shooting in Gifford.
Major Eric Flowers says Deputy Chad Sharpeta pulled over a truck near the intersection of 45th street and 32nd Avenue Friday night.
Two other deputies arrived as backup.
While Sharpeta conducted the traffic stop, dash camera footage recorded the sound of two gun shots fired in the direction of the deputies.
“At the time, the deputies didn’t realize how close the shots were…Less than 100 feet, somewhere in that area,” Flowers said.
Deputies established a perimeter, but were unable to find a shooter.
Detectives found two shell casings behind the nearby Smith’s grocery store, where they believe a shooter was hiding while firing at the deputies.
Detectives also found abandoned cell phones, which are being processed to determine if they belonged to the possible shooter.
“It’s our belief that the bright lights of the traffic stop may have disoriented the shot or may have caused them to miss or shoot over top, which is certainly why we do have those bright lights that shine in that direction so you really can’t tell where the deputies are at,” Flowers said.
No deputies were injured and no property was damaged.
“They’re fine, a little shaken up by the incident obviously,” Flowers said. “We’ve got our deputies on heightened alert, knowing at any time during a traffic stop, rounds could be coming their direction and maybe not necessarily from the person they stopped.”
Flowers says the deputies involved know the risks of the job, and went back to work the next day.
Sheriff Deryl Loar said in a statement, “This year has been exceedingly dangerous for our local law enforcement. This is an ambush style shooting as our deputies were focused on their tasks during this stop.”
Anyone with information is encourage to contact treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIPS(8477) or www.tcwatch.org. You may remain anonymous and be eligible to up to a $3000 reward.