American Patriot (September 1st, 2016)
Good Samaritan Shoots, Kills Suspect Attacking Deputy
November 15, 2016
A Good Samaritan with a concealed carry permit shot a man who was attacking a Lee County deputy on an I-75 off-ramp Monday morning.
Witnesses who say they saw the whole thing happen told us a deputy tried to pull over a man near the Corkscrew exit.
The suspect took off in his vehicle, reaching speeds up to 100 miles per hour. Eventually, the driver got out of his car on an off-ramp and attacked the deputy.
That's when witnesses say a third person came over and shot the suspect, who later died.
"There was a lot of other lives that he was putting at risk, including mine and my daughter's," said Nicole Ambrosini, who saw it all happen. "I saw a car approaching me from behind at a very fast rate."
That car, a blue Toyota, "then swerved onto the shoulder on the left side and had to have been around 120 miles per hour," she said, describing how she watched a deputy give chase. Both cars eventually got off at Exit 123 - Corkscrew Road.
Witnesses saw the driver attack the deputy before they say another man ran up with a gun shouting at the suspect to stop.
"I saw the deputy and the suspect out of their cars with the doors both wide open and they were some type of altercation," Ambrosini said.
"He just kept beating him and beating him," said Shanta Holditch. She said the deputy was pulled out of his patrol car by the suspect, "throwing him to the ground and punching him in all different directions."
"I heard like three shots. He fell down on top of the police officer," said Mr. Smith, a witness. "After a moment, the police officer rolled him back over, got on his mic, then rolled over back on the ground besides the guy."
Holditch said the suspect "refused to get off the officer and the officer kept yelling, 'shoot him, shoot him, shoot him,' and then he shot him. I think approximately three shots were heard."
The scene covered miles from the I-75 S Corkscrew Road exit to where the law enforcement helicopter landed twice. Two miles ahead, Florida Highway Patrol and cadets were seen canvassing for evidence.
"I was just trying to get out of the way, but I got surrounded," Smith said.
Those who saw it for themselves were still in shock over what happened.
"The guy that protected, shot the bad guy, was a guy that pulled over on the ramp and saw the guy beating the officer. He pulled out his gun," said Smith.
It is unclear if that person was a Good Samaritan or an officer not in uniform. The deputy who was attacked was rushed to the hospital, but he is expected to recover.
Sources have identified the deputy as Deputy Dean Bardes. He is a 12-year veteran with the Lee County Sheriff's Office, mainly working traffic details.
Sky2 video of the scene shows two vehicles. Both cars remain at the scene and have been central to the investigation with crime scene technicians in and out of them.
The whole scene backed up traffic along the interstate for miles and closed the exit. Investigators remained on the ramp looking for evidence until around 9 p.m. Monday.
We were supposed to hear from Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott Monday afternoon. But 20 minutes before the news conference, the sheriff's office canceled.
Aside from their first update Monday morning, deputies have yet to release any new information about the deputy or the suspect. They say they're working to notify the suspect's next of kin before they release any information.
Man Who Shot Deputy’s Assailant Gets A Replacement Gun
November 16, 2016
A local gun dealer has given a bystander who shot and killed a man assaulting a deputy on Interstate 75 this week a replacement handgun.
“We reached out to the Lee County Sheriff,” said Mark Williams, who has managed Shoot Straight in Fort Myers. “He had to impound the gun for evidence. We wanted to donate a gun so this man’s not unarmed.”
The unidentified bystander, according to eyewitness accounts, shot and killed Edward Strother on Monday in Estero during an altercation with Lee County sheriff’s Deputy Dean Bardes, who had stopped Strother for speeding. The Sheriff’s Office is not naming the bystander, whom Sheriff Mike Scott has called a Good Samaritan, because the incident still being under investigation.
Sheriff’s deputies accompanied the bystander to the gun store Tuesday.
“I know he wants to stay anonymous,” said Williams, who also declined to identify him. “He’s a super nice guy. He doesn’t want any attention.”
Williams said the man had a concealed-weapons permit. He ran a background check on the man and then gave him a Springfield XDS, a handgun that can hold up to eight rounds. It was black, weighed almost two pounds and was made in Croatia. It cost $500.
“The sheriff is calling him a hero,” Williams said. “If they were comfortable with him getting a gun, I was completely comfortable with giving him a gun.”
Williams described the man as “extremely soft-spoken, a well-mannered, quiet guy.”
Scott wrote a Facebook post, applauding the bystander for killing the man who was assaulting the deputy. The Sheriff's Office released a photograph of Strother sitting on top of Bardes during their altercation.
“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,” Scott wrote. “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.”
Boy Calls 911 To Ask Deputies Over For Family’s Thanksgiving Dinner
“While we do not encourage this use of 911... we are so honored at the invitation.”
November 26, 2016
A 5-year-old boy in Florida just wanted to give thanks to his local sheriff’s office this Thanksgiving.
Billy Nolin dialed 911 on Thursday to ask Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies to join him and his family for their holiday dinner at their DeFuniak Springs home.
“Will you come over because we are having Thanksgiving. Thank you, bye,” he said to the operator, before hanging up.
“With all the bad calls we take on a daily basis, this one was a welcomed happy call that made all of us smile,” wrote Monica Webster, the sheriff’s office’s lead communications officer, on Facebook.
The boy’s mom, Landi McCormick, told WEAR that her son confessed to her that he’d dialed the emergency number soon after doing so.
“I kind of told him, ‘You can’t do this. You only do that for emergencies only,’” she said.
When two deputies, Damon Byrd and Aaron Etheridge, visited Billy’s house to thank him for his kind offer, she said her young son began crying because he “thought he was in trouble.”
“The cops had to calm him down, so did I,” McCormick said. The deputies told Billy they were “very proud of him” and that it was great “to know someone that young was still thinking about them” over the holiday, she added.
The officers didn’t end up eating any of the family’s turkey, but they did give the boy a sheriff’s badge and let him pose for photographs inside their patrol car. While he now knows that the 911 shouldn’t be used for non-emergencies, Billy also has his heart set on becoming a cop when he’s older.
“It just goes to show that deputies aren’t just about arresting people and putting them in jail,” Corey Dobridnia, from the sheriff’s office, told the Northwest Florida Daily News.
“Billy’s call brightened all of our days, and the deputies’ visit gave Billy a Thanksgiving memory that will stay with him for the rest of his life.”
Gary Sinise spent Thanksgiving serving Thanksgiving dinner to troops at Kandahar AFB.
Wow, if this isn't a punch in the gut I don't know what is.
Terminally Ill 5-Year-Old Boy Dies in Santa's Arms
December 12, 2016
A terminally ill 5-year-old boy had his final wish fulfilled, dying in the arms of Santa Claus after he was afraid he would miss Christmas.
Eric Schmitt-Matzen, with a classic long white beard and curled mustache, plays Saint Nick in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Schmitt-Matze told NBC affiliate WBIR in an emotional interview Monday how he answered the call to grant one child's final wish to see Saint Nick before he died.
"When I got there, it was my job to make sure he got Christmas," Schmitt-Matzen told WBIR through tears.
Schmitt-Matzen said he had just gotten home from work about a month and a half ago a when a nurse at a local hospital called him and said she had a very sick child who wanted to see Santa.
"He was more concerned about missing Christmas, than dying," Schmitt-Matzen told WBIR.
When he arrived, Schmitt-Matzen said he asked the unnamed boy's family to leave the hospital room if they thought they would get too emotional so that he wouldn't burst into tears himself.
The boy's mother gave him a gift to give the boy, "something he was always wanting," he said, toys from the children's animated series PAW Patrol.
"What's this I hear you're going to be missing Christmas this year?" Schmitt-Matzen said he asked the boy.
That's when the boy told him he heard he was going to die.
"Well, you're not going to miss Christmas, the elves already had your present, we knew you wanted this for a long time," he said he told the boy.
"Really?" the boy asked, according to Schmitt-Matzen.
He then gave the boy his gift "and that put a grin on his face," he said.
Schmitt-Matzen choked up as he told WBIR that he told the boy "When you get up those pearly gates, you just tell them you're Santa's number one elf."
"I am?" the boy asked, perking up, according to Schmitt-Matzen.
"You sure are, I'm sure they'll let you right in," he said.
The boy then gave him a big hug, he said, and "he just looked at me and said, Santa, can you help me?"
"And that's when he passed," Schmitt-Matzen said.
Schmitt-Matzen first told his story to Knoxville News Sentinel Columnist Sam Venable and it has since gained national attention.
He told the publication that after the boy died, his mother ran back into the room screaming, and he left as fast as he could.
"I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I've seen my share of (stuff). But I ran by the nurses' station bawling my head off," he told the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Schmitt-Matzen said he was ready to hang up his Santa suit for good in despair, but found the strength for one more children's show.
"When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play," he told the Sentinel. "For them and for me."
No longer wears the uniform of an Army Ranger but still giving selflessly to others!
Well, an interesting turn of events on the above story...
Editor's Note: Since publication of this story, the News Sentinel has done additional investigation in an attempt to independently verify Schmitt-Matzen’s account. This has proven unsuccessful. Although facts about his background have checked out, his story of bringing a gift to a dying child remains unverified. The News Sentinel cannot establish that Schmitt-Matzen’s account is inaccurate, but more importantly, ongoing reporting cannot establish that it is accurate. See full story.
I'm hesitant to post a HuffPo link but...
‘Katrina Girl’ Inspired To Join The Military 12 Years After Sergeant Rescued Her
March 17, 2017
Three-year-old LaShay Brown gave Master Sgt. Mike Maroney the thank you of a lifetime after he saved her during Hurricane Katrina in 2005
In a rare joyous moment amid the pure dismay of Hurricane Katrina, an Air Force pararescuer saved a 3-year-old girl and her family from the floods in 2005. After the rescue, the little girl gave the man a huge hug that was captured in an iconic photo.
The moment left a lasting impact on both LaShay Brown and Master Sgt. Mike Maroney. The duo reunited a decade later and have kept in touch ever since. Maroney has visited LaShay, now 14, and her family in Mississippi, and they speak on the phone weekly, according to People. He even taught her how to swim.
LaShay said Maroney’s support has inspired her to join the military one day. She said she doesn’t know which branch yet, but Maroney supports her.
“I am proud of her no matter what she does and will support her in everything she does,” he told People. “I think she understands service and I believe that she will do great things no matter what she chooses.”
Maroney also inspired LaShay to join the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at her high school.
“It was very interesting and a challenge, and because I had never done it before,” she told People. “I knew if I joined I would have help from Mike along the way if I needed it, or was confused about anything.”
Maroney, who will retire from the Air Force this month because of an injury, will accompany LaShay to her JROTC ball on Saturday. He said that he’s going because LaShay and her family “mean as much to [him] as [his] own.”
Maroney, who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when he rescued LaShay, set out to find the teen in 2015 with the hashtag #FindKatrinaGirl. He said that he looked at the photo of the two while he was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan to get him through difficult times.
When they were reunited on “The Real,” he told LaShay how much her hug meant to him.
“That small gesture, it helped me through bad days and dark days,” he told her. “You have a beautiful smile and it stuck with me and it’s helped me and has meant a lot to me. So I’m indebted to you. You rescued me more than I rescued you.”
Good for her and him. Huffpo isn't 100% shit. Close, but not entirely.
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
-- Theodore Roosevelt
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