Right-to-Carry Permit Holder Saves Officer from Violent Attack; Continues Tradition of Armed Citizens Assisting Law Enforcement


Law enforcement is at its best when police can rely on the support of the communities they serve to assist in their fight against crime. This cooperation between citizens and police can come in many forms, however, this week witnessed a profound instance of citizen support for law enforcement when a Right-to-Carry permit holder came to the defense a law enforcement officer in Lee County, Fla.

On the morning of November 14, Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Dean Bardes and members of the Florida Highway Patrol were tending to an accident on Interstate 75 when a motorist nearly struck Bardes with his vehicle. The near miss prompted Bardes to pursue the motorist until he stopped at an off ramp.

Upon conclusion of the chase, the motorist exited his vehicle and physically attacked Bardes. During the altercation, the motorist tackled Bardes to the ground and got on top of him. As striking images of the encounter show, the driver then proceeded to viciously beat the officer. A witness to the assault described the scene to local media outlet WINK News, stating, “He threw the officer to the ground so violently. I mean it just it was awful. And he just started punching him and hitting and hitting and hitting. I thought he was going to kill him.”

As Bardes cried out for help, an armed Florida Concealed Weapon License holder happened upon the scene. The Right-to-Carry permit holder drew a gun and rushed from his vehicle to Bardes’ defense. The armed citizen repeatedly ordered the motorist to cease his assault. When the motorist continued to beat the deputy, the Right-to-Carry permit holder shot and killed the attacker.

Following the incident, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott issued a statement commending the actions of the Right-to-Carry permit holder. Scott noted, “My deepest and sincere appreciation goes to the citizen who engaged the crazed assailant and stopped the imminent threat of great bodily harm or death to our Deputy.”

Those who follow NRA’s long running Armed Citizen column will know that this is nowhere near the first instance in which a law-abiding gun owner has come to the aid of a law enforcement officer. In fact, in 1996 NRA compiled a number of such instances into a booklet titled, “Armed Citizens & Police Officers: Partners in Fighting Crime.”

More recent examples of armed citizen support for police abound.

In July, Right-to-Carry permit holder Dylan DeBoard was granted a Citizen’s Award for Valor by officials in Mount Vernon, Ohio for his part in helping an officer in distress. A month earlier, Mount Vernon Police Department Cpl. Michael Wheeler was attempting to restrain a meth-addled homeless man when he was overpowered and pinned on his back. According to reports, Wheeler’s attacker attempted to get control of the officer’s sidearm.

DeBoard came upon the altercation and was able to distract the homeless man with his own firearm long enough for Wheeler to regain the upper hand in the fight and handcuff the vagrant. Following the incident, Wheeler remarked on how there were several other bystanders who offered no assistance, saying of DeBoard, “I wish a lot more of society would do what he did. There were people standing around, but they were just watching. I kept wondering why people didn’t do anything.”

In February, an armed citizen came to the defense of an officer under attack in the Philadelphia suburb of Upper Darby, Pa. A police officer was attempting to break up a fight outside Upper Darby High, when he was attacked by one teen and surrounded by a group of others. A nearby resident witnessed the altercation, retrieved a gun, and ordered the group to stop.

Describing the incident, Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood told a local media outlet, “There were 40 kids. If it wasn’t for the good Samaritan stepping forward, he’d have been dead meat… There’s no doubt they would have attacked him.” Chitwood also noted, “If this guy didn’t come out and come to the aid of the officer, this officer would have had significant problems.”

In May 2015, an armed citizen aided an officer in Oklahoma City, Okla. In this case, rookie Oklahoma City Police Officer Adam Eller pursued, then was attempting to arrest a suspected burglar when the suspect attacked. During the altercation, the suspect obtained control of Eller’s baton and repeatedly struck the officer in the head with it. An armed citizen witnessed the attack and rushed to the officer’s defense, ordering the suspect to cease his assault.

Of course, in addition to instances where armed citizens have come to the assistance of an officer in peril, the Armed Citizen column is replete with examples of where law-abiding gun owners have assisted police in the apprehension of wrongdoers.

It is logical that gun owners and law enforcement routinely find themselves working in concert, as these groups are natural allies. As a group, Right-to-Carry permit holders have demonstrated the utmost respect for the law, with permit revocation data showing that they are more law-abiding than the general public.

In a decision characteristic of an individual responsible for such a noble deed, the armed citizen that came to Bardes’ aid wishes to remain anonymous. This anonymous hero deserves our admiration, and their actions will stand as another sterling example of the important bond between law-abiding gun owners and law enforcement.