MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A Brevard County sheriff's deputy shot and wounded a construction worker who was swinging a piece of barbed metal fencing just outside of the Merritt Square Mall early Tuesday afternoon, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said.
Multiple Brevard County sheriff’s deputies and investigators quickly converged on the mall following reports of gunfire outside of the retail complex around 1:20 p.m., News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
Ivey said the the construction worker at the mall was behaving erratically and aggressively, so the manager of the construction site told him to leave. Instead, the man got into a confrontation with mall security, authorities said.
Mall security called the Brevard County Sheriff's Office for backup. Two deputies arrived on scene to find the construction worker, who was not been identified, armed with a barbed metal fencing post in his hand, Ivey said.
"Again, the individual became aggressive. He was armed with a piece of metal or steel fencing, fencing post that he had in his hand. He became aggressive toward the deputy, swinging the piece of metal fencing post," Ivey said.
A deputy fired multiple rounds at the man and he was shot at least once. The man was airlifted to a hospital for further treatment, his condition was not immediately available.
Ivey stood by the actions of his deputy. He said the thick, barbed metal fencing could have done "substantial damage."
“From everything I’ve seen at this point, our deputy took the absolute right action in dealing with the threat,” Ivey said.
Neither deputy was injured.
Jonathan Graff, who works at the mall, told Florida Today he was in the parking lot when he heard four to five shots. Two BCSO patrol cruisers and a mall security cart were nearby.
"I was looking down when the shots were fired," he said. " I looked up and saw two officers and one man laying on the ground."
He went back to work to finish his shift, then gave a statement to detectives.
Brevard County Fire Rescue paramedics could be seen loading an unidentified person into an ambulance.
A medical helicopter was also called to the site as deputies used crime scene tape to rope off a grassy area near a retention pond. The mall remains open.
This is the second reported deputy-involved shooting involving the agency this year. The other one took place March 19 and ended with the death of an armed, 19-year-old man suspected of attempting to rob a resident at an apartment complex. That case remains under investigation.