Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco held a news conference June 10 to describe what he called the heroic efforts of his deputies to bring a suspected gunman into custody while saving the life of one of his department’s own.
The drama began in the early morning hours of June 8 when deputies responded to a call on Humboldt Avenue, in the Seven Springs area, where Terrance Peterson, 62, allegedly had gotten into an argument with his wife and then shot her Amazon Alexa device.
Deputies worked for several hours attempting to convince Peterson leave his barricaded premises.
Once deputies entered, Peterson began shooting.
The first in was Deputy Christopher Stone, 41, who was hit and suffered what was later to be determined as a severed femoral artery.
A second deputy, Gary Stritt, was wounded in the hand and shoulder while trying to extricate Stone from the scene.
“It was extremely scary when I looked down and saw the words ‘Officer Down,’ ” Nocco recalled during the Monday news briefing at the Pasco County Detention Center. “I got down and started praying right away.”
The sheriff reported Stone is recovering and has already been up and walking.
Stritt’s wounds, according to the sheriff, appeared to be from “banging around” as he pulled Stone out of the house.
He thanked the Pasco Fire Rescue units and the personnel at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, describing both as being “game changers” and “top notch.”
Nocco also voiced his appreciation for a civilian Good Samaritan named William Ricci.
“He’s a retired firefighter from up north,” Nocco said. “He got engaged. He saw what was happening. He saw the deputies getting hurt. His assistance helped to save a life out there.”
He also thanked the community for showing their support for the injured officers and for the department at large.
Nocco said the Pasco Sheriff’s Charities, victim’s services and department chaplains would be there for all the deputies on scene “because this hit way too close to home.”
He also urged members of the neighborhood having troubles dealing with what they may have experienced to call the sheriff’s office and help will be provided.
“When you think about the deputies that were involved in this, it was tremendous what they did,” Nocco said. “It was heroism at its best. And with Mr. Ricci, Fire Rescue, Bayonet Point – it was everybody coming together as a team and I want to thank them.”
Shooting suspect Peterson remained in critical condition at the time of the press conference, and whether the wound he sustained where self-inflicted or not was still under investigation.
Nocco said there was only a charge of domestic battery at the time of the press conference, but the Sheriff’s Office is working with the Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney’s Office on additional charges of attempted homicide.
“He wasn’t just shooting at our own members,” the sheriff emphasized. “He was shooting at fire and rescue. He was shooting at Mr. Ricci and everybody out there. And, for everybody he was shooting at he is going to be held accountable.”
Nocco confirmed that shots Peterson allegedly fired inside the house were from a handgun. But when he began shooting outside the house, Peterson was using a semiautomatic version of the AK-47 military rifle, the sheriff’s said.
According to a Sheriff’s Office arrest affidavit, Peterson has tattooed on his left calf the red numeral 1 of the Army’s First Infantry Division.
Calling the incident a combat situation is a “true statement,” Nocco said.
“Having that high caliber rifle shooting at our members … this is where our training comes in,” the sheriff said. “This is how some of the steps we have taken over the years have paid off. We train them to make split-second decisions. The decision to lay down suppression rounds and fire back at the individual probably saved lives. The fact they were able to pull Chris out of the house and get a tourniquet on, that saved lives.”
Chris Lofgren, Sheriff’s Office medic, said with the type of would Stone suffered he could have “bled out within two to three minutes.”
“As they got Stone out of the house, Mr. Ricci put himself in harm’s way and assisted them,” Nocco added.
Nocco said Peterson had very little recorded criminal history. The charges that are known included domestic violence and the manufacturing of moonshine.
“When you talk about heroic actions, you should be proud of your Pasco Sheriff’s Office,” Nocco said. “This is what we train for.”
Information on how to assist the wounded deputies and their families can be found at pascosheriffcharities.org.