Strother first tried to run down Deputy Dean Bardes as he was working the scene of a minor accident. This attempted murder led the deputy to initiate a pursuit of Strother’s vehicle on I-75 that exceeded speeds of 100 miles-per-hour, and ended up with Strother attacking Deputy Bardes, and fighting him for control of his weapon.
A concealed carry permit holder who desires to remain anonymous left the safety of his vehicle to confront Strother. He told Strother to get off Deputy Bardes numerous times, and when Strother refused to stop his attack on Barnes, the concealed carrier fired at Strother three times, hitting him with three bullets, ending the fight, and saving Bardes life.
This morning Sheriff Mike Scott released a poignant “thank you” to the concealed carrier on the Lee County Sheriff’s Facebook page.
Earlier this week, two heroes met on I-75 and while they had never met before, one would save the others life. I was at the hospital when the ambulance arrived, the rear doors opened, and my Deputy Dean Bardes was unloaded on a stretcher. Bloody from a vicious attack by a driver Bardes had stopped for endangering the lives of other innocent citizens in our community, the Medics wheeled him into a treatment room. Joined by others from our team, I was there when his wife and family arrived with fear and concern for their loved one as the E.R. team worked on him. Ironically, this was the first day in a while that Deputy Bardes was alone on patrol because as a Field Training Officer, he typically has a recruit riding with him to learn the business. A business that has seen an increasingly alarming rise in attacks and killings perpetrated on cops. A business that has fallen victim to false narratives like Ferguson where the good guys have been painted as the bad guys by a vocal minority that refuses to allow facts and evidence to get in their way. A business that is the last line of defense between good and evil.
On behalf of the men and women of the LCSO, I thank Deputy Dean Bardes for his bravery and pray for a full recovery. I thank the E.R. staff and E.M.S. for their immediate attention to Dean, and I thank the many witnesses to this event who stopped to assist our Detectives. I thank my good friends at “Shoot Straight” who realized that the hero’s gun was taken as evidence and immediately gave him a brand new firearm. Above all, I thank the hero that recognized the imminent threat, rushed to Deputy Bardes’ aid, and ultimately stopped that threat. In a day and age where race is a near instant focus for media and other pundits in police incidents, the fact is that this hero happens to be a man of color who stopped another man of color from further harming or killing a white cop; thereby reminding us that black lives matter, blue lives matter, and indeed all life matters. We at your Sheriff’s Office remain proud to serve and focused on the mission.
The concealed carrier in Florida, like most of the more than 14 million concealed carriers in this country, didn’t see “black and white” when he saw Deputy Bardes struggling to defend himself from Edward Strother and retain control of his weapon. The concealed carrier simply saw a defender of his community fighting for his life against a violent criminal.
This concealed carrier gave Strother several chances to surrender, even as the battered Bardes implored the concealed carrier to shoot. Finally, seeing no other recourse, the concealed carrier shot Strother off Bardes, and saved his life.
It wasn’t about race. It was saving a life (or lives), just as it was in the shootings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Alton Sterling. There are dozens of shootings where Black Lives Matter has attempted to poison African-American communities against law enforcement. they’ve done so with false narratives, in a twisted bid to push their communist ideologies into these communities and grow their own political power using Alinsky tactics.
It wasn’t about race. It was about doing the right thing even though it was the hardest decision any of us will likely ever have to make; taking one life to save another without knowing all the facts and having to make a critical decision in seconds.
It was about right and wrong.
The concealed carrier knew that instinctively. Sheriff Scott recognized that in his post. Shoot Straight knew that when they immediately replaced the concealed carrier’s gun free of charge when his was taken into custody as evidence in the investigation.
Taking a life should never be easy, even though it is sometimes sadly necessary. I pray that the concealed carrier who saved Deputy Bardes can find peace with his decision. It was the right call to make, and it saved a life.
Isn’t that the reason we carry?