Shoot Straight, a Fort Myers gun dealer and firing range, gave the unidentified bystander who shot and killed a man assaulting a deputy on I-75 Monday a replacement handgun Tuesday.
“We reached out to the Lee County Sheriff,” said Mark Williams, who has managed the Fort Myers Shoot Straight location since it opened in 2010 off Colonial Boulevard. “He had to impound the gun for evidence. We wanted to donate a gun so this man’s not unarmed.”
The bystander, according to eyewitness accounts, shot three times and killed Edward Strother on Monday off the Corkscrew Road exit in Estero during an altercation with Deputy Dean Bardes, who had stopped Strother for speeding. The LCSO is not naming the bystander, who Sheriff Mike Scott has called a “Good Samaritan”, due to the incident still being under investigation.
Sheriff’s deputies accompanied the bystander to the gun store Tuesday.
“I know he wants to stay anonymous,” said Williams, who declined to identify him. “He’s a super nice guy. He doesn’t want any attention.”
Williams said the man had a concealed weapons permit. He ran a background check on the man and then gave him the weapon.
Shoot Straight gave the man a Springfield XDS, an handgun that can hold up to eight rounds. It was black, weighed almost two pounds and was made in Croatia. It cost $500.
Williams said after the background check came up clean, he did not hesitate to donate the weapon to the man.
“The sheriff is calling him a hero,” Williams said. “If they were comfortable with him getting a gun, I was completely comfortable with giving him a gun.
“From what I’m hearing from witnesses, all of these people drove by this happening, and this was the one guy who stopped.”
Williams said he has not heard of many situations like this happening.
“For the most part, people with concealed permits know they’re not police,” Williams said. “They don’t want to be police.”
Williams described the man as “extremely soft-spoken, a well-mannered, quiet guy.”
Scott wrote a Facebook post, applauding the bystander for killing the man who was assaulting the deputy. The sheriff’s office released a photograph of Strother sitting on top of Bardes during their altercation.
“I thank my good friends at ‘Shoot Straight’ who realized that the hero’s gun was taken as evidence and immediately gave him a brand new firearm,” Scott wrote. “Above all, I thank the hero that recognized the imminent threat, rushed to Deputy Bardes’ aid, and ultimately stopped that threat.
“In a day and age where race is a near-instant focus for media and other pundits in police incidents, the fact is that this hero happens to be a man of color who stopped another man of color from further harming or killing a white cop; thereby reminding us that black lives matter, blue lives matter, and indeed all life matters. We at your Sheriff’s Office remain proud to serve and focused on the mission.”