A Florida sheriff’s deputy was shot three times on March 12 by an alleged burglar, but was saved when his K9 took down the alleged burglar, stopping the shooting. That information comes from a press statement released by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
In the press statement, the Pinellas Couty Sheriff’s Office said that the alleged burglar ambushed one of the deputies, Deputy Aitken, shooting him three times. The same alleged burglar opened fire on the other deputy, Sergeant Viano, but was stopped by the K9. That dog, K9 Taco, tackled the suspect and gave Sergeant Viano time to open fire, killing the suspect. In the sheriff department’s words:
On April 6, 2023, Sheriff Gualtieri held a press conference to discuss updates on the deputy-involved shooting from March 12, 2023 and released the body cam footage of the incident. Corporal Aitken and Sergeant Viano were also present for the press conference and answered questions for the media.
On March 12, 2023, Corporal Aitken and K9 Taco were tracking a vehicle burglary suspect in the area of 6385 60th Avenue North in St. Petersburg, accompanied by Sergeant Viano. After jumping a fence and tracking into the back yard of a residence, the suspect ambushed Corporal Aitken and shot him 3 times. He then fired at Sergeant Viano multiple times. K9 Taco immediately apprehended the suspect, allowing Sergeant Viano to return fire. The suspect was struck multiple times by Sergeant Viano and was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Corporal Aitken continues to recover from his injuries.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri stated, “This is where things lined up for the good guys, in some good and unexplainable way. . . a significant factor and hero in saving Corporal Aitkens’ life and allowing Sergeant Viano to avoid being shot is K9 Taco. K9 handlers train a lot with their dogs for the gunshot scenario but one never really knows how the K9 is going to react in a real situation. Here, K9 Taco reacted exactly how he was trained and upon Corporal Aitken being shot, K9 Taco immediately engaged Bostick.”
Watch the sheriff discuss the incident and the body cam video of the incident itself here:
KFOR commented on the injuries that Deputy Aitken suffered during the incident, saying:
Aitken underwent surgery for his injuries and is still recovering. He says it’s a miracle that all three shots, striking his neck, leg, and wrist, all missed vital organs. Viano and Taco were not injured.
“If it wasn’t for the heroic actions of K-9 Taco and Sergeant Viano, Corporal Aitken may not have made it out of this tragic incident alive,” said Pinellas County Sergeant Amanda Sinni when the video was released on April 6th.
The alleged robber who ambushed the deputies, Zion Bostick, had a lengthy criminal record and had been released from prison exactly a year before the March 12 shooting incident.
Featured image credit: screengrab from the embedded video
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