FORT MYERS, Fla. — 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.”
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