Polk County deputy shot in chest saved by bulletproof vest; man arrested, officials say

Gabriel Batista, 41, arrested in shooting

A man was arrested after shooting a Polk County deputy in the chest Wednesday evening, according to the sheriff’s office.

DAVENPORT, Fla. – A man was arrested after shooting a Polk County deputy in the chest Wednesday evening, according to the sheriff’s office.

The shooting happened in the Tanglewood Preserve subdivision in Davenport.

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The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said two deputies — Deputy Nicole Lyons and Deputy Harodis “Tony” Nunez — responded to the home around 10 p.m. due to a family disturbance. Sheriff Grady Judd said during a news conference Thursday afternoon that the disturbance was between Gabriel Batista, 41, and his wife as the two had separated.

The sheriff said the woman told deputies Batista showed up to the home and was “knocking on the doors,” prompting her to call authorities. When deputies arrived, Judd said Batista had left.

“So they’re talking to the victim of this harassment, the stalking and during this conversation, but lo and behold, one of the children sees dad pull up out front. So our deputies immediately go outside to have a conversation with him,” the sheriff said.

Judd said Batista approached the deputies with his hands behind his back. The deputies asked Batista to show his hands and he refused.

Gabriel Batista, 41, accused of shooting Polk County deputy. (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

Judd said one of the deputies prepared to tase him, while the other held a gun on Batista. When one of the deputies attempted to tase him, Batista shot at the deputy.

“The suspect shot at Deputy Nunez six times. He struck him one time, center mass, right in the center of the chest. Out of the six shots,” Judd said. “That was a blessing. It was a blessing because our deputy was wearing his bulletproof vest and he was wearing the St. Michael’s medallion that he says he never leaves home.”

The sheriff said the deputy had a scuff mark on his chest and that the bullet is believed to have gone through the vest to the medallion, causing the scratch.

The deputy then fired at Batista, who then surrendered. The sheriff’s office said Batista was uninjured and arrested.

Batista faces charges of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, written threat to kill, resisting with violence and discharging a firearm on residential property.

The investigation is ongoing.

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.