INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — A hostage situation that lasted hours ended with the two victims saved and not a single law enforcement officer injured.
"It makes us feel good," Sgt. Christopher Lester said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime career call for service. Many officers will go 35 years and never respond to something like this."
In June 2022, a call came into the Indian River County Sheriff's Office that there had been a shooting and two women had been abducted.
Deputies immediately recognized the suspect's name, who was a wanted felon. Deputy Brian Nunley spotted the suspect's car and followed him onto Interstate 95 when a gun was pulled.
"I saw a muzzle flash coming from the driver's side window, and then I saw rounds skipping off the pavement," Nunley said. "It was intense."
The Indian River County Sheriff's Office called in its chopper to follow the suspect by air. The pursuit on the ground started growing with Sebastian police and other agencies joining in.
The suspect's car came to a stop in a field. Deputies then spent hours negotiating trying to save the hostages.
"It doesn't matter if you've been in 100 or 200 shootings," Deputy Kevin Peach said. "Whatever it is, you never know what's going to happen after that next one—right? You can't really prepare for it."
Indian River County Sheriff's deputies worked in tandem with two other agencies. The group of law enforcement officers shot and killed the suspect without anyone else getting hurt.
The team was awarded the "2023 Valor Award" at the Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) Awards ceremony in Palm Beach Gardens last week.