When a Florida wildlife officer found himself ambushed by gun-wielding assailants on a sailboat last Friday, he made the unusual choice to jump in the water and return fire while swimming. That decision may have very well saved his life.
“A routine vessel stop exploded into a shootout and an attack on one of our officers. While he was helpless in the water, he could have been left for dead but he had some luck on his side,” stated the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).
According to the agency, Officer David Brady was patrolling St. Andrew Bay on Friday when he received a call regarding a disturbance on a sailboat in the area. Brady boarded the vessel and asked the two men on board for identification. Instead of paperwork, however, one of the men emerged from the cabin with a handgun and opened fire. Brady was struck several times in the abdomen, but most of the shots were stopped by his bulletproof vest. Two bullets did get through and passed through his clavicle and lower abdomen. Injured and bleeding, Brady risked his life on a daring decision. He jumped into the water, pulled out his firearm, and returned fire.
What followed was a chaotic gunfight on the open water. Brady recalled even stopping to reload during a lull. Eventually, the two men moved over to Brady’s patrol boat and attempted to run him over. That stopped when the wildlife officer wounded one of his assailants and they fled—in a marked patrol boat no less. As Brady flagged down the Coast Guard and was transported to a nearby hospital, the shooters came ashore in Panama City and attempted to break into at least one house.
The FWC, Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Panama City Police Department, and Florida Highway Patrol quickly coordinated a massive manhunt and locked down Panama City for part of Friday. According to the Panama City News Herald, the two men, identified as 20-year-old Lachlan Fain Akins and 18-year-old Samuel Wyndham Reager, were confronted by an armed resident at one point and split up. Akins fled into the streets and were captured by officers while Reager, who was believed to be armed, decided to hole up in a house. Officers later surrounded the residence and captured Reager without incident. A gun was also retrieved at the scene.
The story had a happy ending for Officer Brady as well.
“Because of his lucky stars—the vest, training and nearby help—Brady was released from the hospital the same day and he is expected to fully recover from his injuries!” stated the FWC.
“This is just another reminder of the way conservation officers, as well as all other types of law enforcement officials, put themselves at risk each and every day to protect people and natural resources!” the agency added.
Officials are currently investigating why the two men opened fire on Brady last Friday. The sailboat they were on was not reported stolen and so far, no motive has been reported. Officials confirmed that Akins and Reager will be charged with the attempted murder of an officer.
Image courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission