Brevard Deputy Shoots At Drug Suspect
COCOA, Florida -- At approximately 1:00 A.M. Saturday, Brevard County Sheriff's Deputies were conducting an investigation regarding the sales of drugs in the area of 5000 Friday Road in Cocoa, Florida.
A deputy was acting in an undercover capacity while attempting to purchase drugs from two suspects within a vehicle in that area. As uniformed deputies approached to secure the scene, deputies say the driver of the suspect vehicle disregarded the deputy’s commands and attempted to flee the scene.
According to BCSO spokesperson Lt. Tod Goodyear, the driver intentionally accelerated the vehicle in a dangerous manner striking Deputy Juan Vargas, placing him in fear and forcing him to take immediate action. Deputy Vargas discharged his firearm - striking the vehicle passenger. The driver was then apprehended without further incident. The passenger was transported to Holmes Regional Medical Center after receiving one gunshot wound. The injury is not considered life threatening.
Deputy Vargas was taken to Viera Hospital where he was later released. Deputy Juan Vargas has been employed as a Deputy Sheriff with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office since 2005. He is currently assigned to the Tactical Team and is also a member of the SWAT Team.
The driver of the vehicle, 20-year-old, Nicholas Lechner of 300 Maplewood Lane, Cocoa, was arrested and charged with Aggravated Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer. He is currently being held in the Brevard County Jail Complex on a No Bond status. The passenger is not being identified by law enfocement at this time.
The investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting an independent and parallel investigation regarding Deputy Vargas' use of force. Further charges relating to both the driver and passenger are pending the investigative findings.
Sheriff Jack Parker stated, “Our deputies are trained to respond to deadly situations and must make split second decisions in the worst situations to protect themselves and others. Deputy Vargas is one of our finest and is highly respected by myself and his peers as an outstanding law enforcement officer. We are very thankful that Deputy Vargas was not seriously injured as a result of the suspect's actions.”
Deputy Vargas has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. This is a common practice anytime a deputy is involved in a line-of-duty shooting.