Florida Keys

He shot a deputy at point-blank range in the chest. He is going to prison for a long time.

Bulletproof vest saves Keys deputy's life

Dashcam video from Deputy Josh Gordon's vehicle of a traffic stop shows suspect Timothy Thomas opening fire on Gordon, who was hit in the chest. His bulletproof vest saved his life.
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Dashcam video from Deputy Josh Gordon's vehicle of a traffic stop shows suspect Timothy Thomas opening fire on Gordon, who was hit in the chest. His bulletproof vest saved his life.

A judge sentenced a Key West man to life in prison Tuesday after he shot a Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy in the chest during a 2015 shootout on Stock Island.

Timothy Thomas, 27, chose not to make a statement during his sentencing hearing at the Plantation Key courthouse. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Kevin McCarthy, said Thomas asked him not to have any of his friends or family speak on his behalf before Circuit Judge Luis Garcia handed down the sentence for attempted first-degree murder of a law-enforcement officer.

Sheriff's Office Sgt. David Lariz, who arrived on the scene the night of Oct. 24, 2015, just as Deputy Joshua Gordon was knocked down by a 9 mm round to the chest, read a statement from his former colleague, who now works in the St. John's County Sheriff's Office in North Florida: "Society is a better place with evil and cowardly men like Mr. Thomas in prison."

Gordon survived what would have likely been a direct shot to the heart that instead hit his body armor.

Before sentencing Thomas, Garcia told him, "You were doing everything to escape, including attempting to kill a police officer."

Footage of the firefight, in which dozens of shots were exchanged, was caught on Gordon's dashboard camera. Thomas was a suspect in an armed robbery that happened days before on Flagler Avenue near Key West High School. He was also wanted on a probation violation and for marijuana charges by the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Gordon began tailing the Ford Mustang Thomas was driving as soon as it left Key West city limits. As he read the plates to dispatch, it turned out the tag was stolen. Gordon continued following the Mustang.

He testified during the March trial that he did not pull Thomas over right away because he wanted to wait for backup.

But he had no choice after Thomas turned off his lights and began speeding down Second Avenue on Stock Island. Gordon switched on his overhead emergency lights, which automatically turns on the dash-cam.

Thomas lost control of his vehicle and the Mustang was stuck between a stop sign and a chain-link fence on Sunshine Street and Third Avenue. Dash-cam footage shows Thomas getting out of the car with his left hand raised toward Gordon, who was screaming at him to show his hands.

Thomas then ducked back into the car and emerged blasting rounds at Gordon, who immediately returned fire. Gordon emptied all 16 rounds from his Glock 22 .40 caliber service handgun. Lariz arrived and got out of his car firing every bullet from his Glock 21 .45 caliber pistol.

Thomas, meanwhile, was rocking the Mustang back and forth trying to free the vehicle, which he eventually did. As he sped off, Gordon retrieved his AR-15 rifle from his trunk and fired three rounds. Thomas continued firing as he drove off. Thomas was hit twice in the street battle.

He surrendered the next day in Key West after an hours-long standoff with law enforcement.

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