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Brevard sheriff's agent shows encouraging signs after being shot

John 'Casey' Smith shot during prostitution investigation

Local 6: Morning News at 6a
Local 6: Morning News at 6a

PORT ST. JOHN, Fla. – The wife of a Brevard County sheriff's agent badly wounded in an ambush shooting during a prostitution investigation said he had interactions Monday that showed encouraging signs.

The agent, John "Casey" Smith, remained at Orlando Regional Medical Center after reportedly suffering a "slight step backward," Saturday evening as doctors and surgeons worked to stabilize his condition, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.

But Monday, Smith was able to respond to questions with head movements and was also able to respond to his wife when she asked him if he understood what she was saying by squeezing her hand, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a statement.

"Casey is a strong man who has an amazing family and support system around him. I know in my heart he is going to come through this and get back to a normal life," Ivey said.

Ivey said what may seem like baby steps are actually giant steps from where Smith was a few days ago.

Smith's medical team has begun reducing the amount of sedatives he is receiving, but he has another surgery scheduled for Tuesday. His medical team is hoping they will have more insight into his condition and recovery following the surgery.

Smith, who was wearing a ballistic vest, was one of several sheriff's agents out late Thursday in Port St. John carrying out an investigation into reports of prostitution at a Covina Street home. Investigators said Smith, who has had several rounds of surgery since the shooting, was struck at least twice by gunfire in the attack – including in the lower abdomen – as deputies approached the home.

Smith returned fire, striking 65-year-old John Franklin Derossett, who remains in stable condition at an area hospital with a gunshot wound to the upper body. He is expected to be turned over to authorities and booked into the Brevard County Jail Complex once doctors release him from the hospital's care.

Deputies arrested 42-year-old Mary Derossett, who was sitting on the porch of the home at the time shooting began, and charged her with solicitation of prostitution, records show. Mary Derossett, who was already out on bond for an unrelated charge, remains held at the jail complex without bond, officials report.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents are conducting an investigation into the shooting – the second police-related shooting two months to leave an officer wounded in Brevard County. In June, Florida Highway Patrol Channing Taylor was shot and wounded as he approached a red pickup truck at a gas station on State Road 520 near Interstate 95 just west of Cocoa. Taylor, wounded in the shoulder, managed to return fire, killing the shooter, 15-year-old Zane Terryn of Palm Bay.

The shooting is the seventh police-related shooting to take place in Brevard County since last October.

Sunday, hundreds of residents gathered in Titusville as the Big Red Bus turned up in Isaac Campbell Park to take blood donations in honor of Agent Smith. Already several hundred pints of blood had been donated to OneBlood, more than a day after word of the deputy's need went out.

"The Sheriff's Office and Casey's family are very grateful for the incredible support to include the blood donations that are continuing today and over the next several days," said Cpl. David Jacobs, spokesman for the Brevard County sheriff's office, in a statement.

Titusville Police Chief John Lau was on site at the Partnership in the Park, a public safety event that included booths and command centers set up by the police department, the sheriff's office and the fire department.

"We do a very dangerous job that was a senseless attack on Deputy Smith," said Lau, who donated blood for the agent on Saturday. "Our heart and thoughts and our prayers are with Casey Smith."