Authorities have released intense video of the moment police were ambushed by a felon with a lengthy criminal record. The frightening firefight in Florida ended with the deputies barely escaping with their lives.
Brevard County Sheriff’s deputies Brian Potters and Tyler Thoman were conducting a traffic stop in Melbourne on Aug. 30. Police dashcam video shows a woman outside her vehicle and another person from the vehicle is leaning against the rear of the vehicle. There is a 2-month-old baby, a dog, and another man in the backseat of the car.
Potters approaches the man sitting in the backseat and strikes up a friendly conversation with him. However, the traffic stop becomes lethal when he asks the man to exit the vehicle. The man begins to get out of the car, and from out of nowhere, he pulls out a rifle that he was hiding and ambushes the deputies by recklessly shooting at them.
The deputies and the suspect exchange gunfire, and a total of 61 rounds were fired in the shootout. Both Potters and the suspect are wounded. The limping suspect attempts to sneak up on the deputies, who are taking cover on one side of the police SUV. After the shooter’s gun jams, he uses the butt of the rifle to bash Potters in the back of the head. They both fall to the ground and a tussle ensues.
Thoman then fires his handgun several times and shoots the man attacking deputy Potters, killing him.
Potters was shot in the leg, sustained multiple head lacerations, suffered tissue damage, and bone fractures in his face, Sheriff Wayne Ivey said.
“As you can clearly see in the video, both of our deputies were in a battle for their lives as this disgusting and evil individual had a blatant disregard for their lives, the lives of others at the scene, and the life of a 2-month-old baby in the car,” Ivey said. “When I tell you, we are blessed that God was watching over our deputies and those present at the scene, I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”
According to WESH-TV, the shooter was identified as Paris Wilder, who had a long rap sheet.
“The attack and ambush [were] perpetrated by a violent, career criminal, with a history of 40 charges for crimes including drug trafficking, aggravated assault while discharging a firearm, battery on a law enforcement officer, and attempted first-degree felony murder,” Ivey said. “I’m personally sickened that by the fact that this thug with such a violent criminal history was out of jail where he could almost kill two of our deputies.”
“This case is a perfect example of what is wrong with our criminal justice system,” the sheriff stated. “When a registered career criminal with 23 felony charges, 17 misdemeanor charges, multiple convictions for violent offenses and two active and pending drug trafficking cases is out on our streets where he can attempt to kill our deputies and put other lives at risk, something is wrong with our system.”
Ivey said deputy Thoman saved Potter’s life by firing multiple rounds and “eliminating the threat.”
Sheriff Ivey defended Thoman’s use of force.
“Let there be no doubt, this individual got exactly what he deserved,” he proclaimed. “And to those out there that might be foolish enough to ask why we shot him so many times, the answer is simple: evil can never be dead enough.”
Content Warning: Graphic video:
2021 Deputy Involved Shooting