Manatee Sheriff's Office responds to Monday's shootout

Bradenton, Florida -- On Monday, a suspected bank robber led Manatee deputies on a chase that ended in a shootout near a neighborhood. One deputy was shot in the arm, and autopsy results show the suspect, identified as 24-year-old Ross Chrisman, shot himself. But was the chase and shooting necessary?

It's a scene out a movie, but it happened on the streets of Manatee County.

"We do this all the time without incident -- this time, not so much," says Dave Bristow, spokesperson for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Lt. Bob Mealy and another patrol car chased Chrisman on US 301 before deputies threw out stops sticks on the road shredding his tires and slowing him down.

"We knew he was trying to avoid us at all cost," Bristow says.

Chrisman pulled off the highway and Mealy did what he's trained to do.

"At that time, we were doing a felony take down, approaching the truck, and all of a sudden he fires," Bristow recounts.

Lt. Mealy pulled out his gun when Bristow says Chrisman shot him in the arm. The impact caused Mealy to drop his gun and take cover.

Bristow says the gunfire lasted a few minutes.

Witnesses reported hearing dozens of gunshots fired. About a dozen bullets ended up lodged in Chrisman's truck. Forensics shows Chrisman shot himself and his dog inside the vehicle.

Chrisman has a long arrest record dating back to 2008 at the age of 18. He's been arrested in Lee, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties on charges ranging from forgery to cocaine and heroin possession to resisting arrest and burglary.

Chrisman has a history of eluding police. In 2012, he lead Sarasota Police, who suspected he had just bought drugs, in a high speed chase down University Parkway. In that case, officers canceled the chase because of a concern for public safety.

The Manatee Sheriff's Office says deputies responded appropriately in this case.

"When in that situation and somebody fires at a deputy and hits the deputy there will be returned gun fire and there was," Bristow says.


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