APOPKA, Fla. — A burglary suspect breaking into homes by using an ax was shot by an off-duty deputy who lived in one of the homes targeted by the perpetrator, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
The shooting occurred around 7:15 p.m. near East Thompson Road and East Votaw Road in Apopka, deputies said.
Officials said a man, identified as Steven Thayer, 40, used the ax to break through the back door of the home while Deputy Bridget Erwin was home with her children, WFTV reported.
Here’s the first look at the suspect Orange County deputies say was shot by a deputy as he tried to break into her Apopka home with an axe. Steven William Thayer is now out of the hospital and facing several charges. More at 4 on #WFTV. pic.twitter.com/9swK6ImzZr
— Len Kiese WFTV (@LenKieseTV) February 26, 2020
“I think (the deputy) did a great job — she protected herself and her kids, who were at home with her,” Sheriff John Mina said. “Just like any normal person, I think she’s shaken up by this.”
The sheriff said Thayer was shot several times in the lower extremities as he tried to make entry in the home, which was one of several that he broke into.
After struggling with Thayer, Erwin managed to get him into handcuffs and administer lifesaving techniques, Mina said.
Mina said deputies were already in the Rolling Oaks subdivision after multiple reports of attempted burglaries involving the same ax-wielding man, so authorities arrived at the deputy’s home shortly after she called for help, ClickOrlando reported.
Thayer was treated and released from a local hospital, before getting booked into jail. He is facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and armed burglary of an occupied dwelling with a deadly weapon.
Moreover, he is also facing charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling and battery for an incident that occurred just prior to the one involving the off-duty deputy.
Mike Largent, a neighbor, said he is thankful it wasn’t his home.
“My wife and kids are safe, and I’m glad the deputy’s safe and that her kids are safe, because that’s what really matters,” Largent said.
— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) February 26, 2020
Mina offered support for the deputy’s actions in an “extremely traumatic” situation.
“This could happen to anyone but our deputies are trained to protect ourselves, protect our communities and this person broke into a deputy’s home with an ax — and who knows what his intentions were — but anyone like that is going to be met with lethal force by our deputies and I think she did a great job,” Mina said.
Deputy Erwin has been a sworn member of the agency since May of 2018.