LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Florida bank robbery suspect tracked down at an interstate rest stop in Kentucky was killed in a late-night exchange of gunfire that left a sheriff's deputy critically wounded, authorities said Wednesday.
The deputy, 28-year-old Jaime Morales, underwent a second surgery following the confrontation late Tuesday at a rest area along Interstate 75 in Scott County, just north of Lexington — Kentucky's second-largest city.
The fugitive, 57-year-old Edward Reynolds, died at the rest stop, Kentucky State Police Trooper Bernis Napier said. The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office in Florida said it had obtained an arrest warrant for Reynolds on Tuesday in connection with a July bank robbery.
The FBI said that Reynolds was suspected to have been involved in a series of bank robberies.
Morales was shot once while teaming with other Scott County deputies and Georgetown police officers in assisting the U.S. Marshal's Service in apprehending the fugitive, Scott County Sheriff Tony Hampton said Wednesday. With two interstates running through the county in Kentucky's bluegrass region, its law enforcement officers face the "potential for anything to come through," the sheriff said.
"Law enforcement, in general, is a dangerous career," Hampton told reporters outside the sheriff's office in Georgetown. "It doesn't matter how big or small the community you're in."
Morales previously served as a Marine and has been with the Scott County sheriff's office for two and a half years, Hampton said. He described Morales as an "outstanding" deputy who "carries a lot of qualifications that you want to see in a deputy sheriff."
The sheriff said he had been at the critically wounded deputy's bedside and other deputies were posted at the Lexington hospital with Morales' family.
"I told him I loved him and that we all loved him, and that we'll be with him and he's going to get through this," Hampton said.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear were among state leaders who sent their thoughts and prayers through Twitter to the deputy.
Kentucky State Police released few details Wednesday about the shooting, saying the investigation is ongoing.
Mike Cervasi, who lives near the rest area, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he and his fiancee, Christy Tucker, were in their house late Tuesday when they heard multiple guns fired at the same time, lasting for a few seconds. When Cervasi began listening to the police scanner, he said he heard "officers in panic asking for EMS stat," the newspaper reported.
Reynolds was wanted in Florida on a charge of robbery with a firearm in connection with a July 25 bank robbery in Sarasota County. According to an affidavit, Reynolds demanded $100, $50 and $20 bills as he lifted his shirt and showed the teller a gun in his waistband. He fled in a convertible, authorities said.
Reynolds also was positively identified recently as a suspect in bank robberies earlier this year in Cape Coral, Florida, the affidavit said.
Meanwhile, police in Punta Gorda identified Reynolds as the suspect in a bank robbery in the Florida city in late May. He indicated he had a weapon and demanded cash from a teller, police said.
This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Kentucky State Police Trooper Bernis Napier.