Fla. officer earns Medal of Valor for shooting gunman

The officer shot the suspect who had opened fire on police during a suicide by cop attempt


Katie Kustura
The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

DELAND, Fla. — A police officer who intervened in a shootout between an attempted-murder suspect and Volusia County deputies was awarded his department's Medal of Valor.

During Monday night's City Commission meeting, DeLand police Chief Jason Umberger said Cpl. Tony Tagle met each and every criteria that an officer must demonstrate to earn the medal when Tagle responded to a shooting in November.

DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger awards Cpl. Tony Tagle with the Medal of Valor during the City Commission meeting on Monday, May 20, 2019. [NEWS-JOURNAL/KATIE KUSTURA]
DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger awards Cpl. Tony Tagle with the Medal of Valor during the City Commission meeting on Monday, May 20, 2019. [NEWS-JOURNAL/KATIE KUSTURA]

"No law enforcement officer goes to work wanting to use deadly force in the commission of their duty, but every law enforcement officer must be prepared if, and when, that time comes," Umberger said, adding that Tagle was prepared on Nov. 19, 2018. "I believe his actions saved the lives of fellow law enforcement officers, civilians who happened to find themselves in that area at that particular day and time and his own life."

On that November afternoon, Tagle was en route to the gym to get in a workout before a mandatory departmental firearms training.

Tagle heard on his radio that deputies were after a man wanted for attempted murder, a pursuit he then saw in real time in his rear-view mirror.

Deputies had deployed stop sticks, puncturing the tires on the Honda Accord that Dillon Parker was driving. After the car came to a stop at a median near U.S. 17 and Golden Hills Boulevard, Parker, 33, got out of the vehicle and began shooting at Deputy Kevin Moss who got caught up in his seat belt and was unable to draw his firearm.

Deputy Wesley Blum returned fire through his windshield after positioning his car between Moss and Parker.

Parker then ran south with Blum chasing after him on foot. Tagle, who saw Parker running in his direction and shooting at him, according to reports, stopped his car, grabbed his rifle and, after taking cover behind his car door, fired a few times at the suspect.

Parker, who has a long criminal record, fell to the ground after being shot by Tagle. The suspect later told investigators he was attempting "suicide by cop" and didn't want to shoot the officers, but just fire his gun in their direction.

Tagle and Blum were cleared last month by prosecutors after an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, standard procedure in law enforcement-involved shootings.

"Corporal Tagle was and has been the consummate professional through the investigation and in the aftermath of the investigation," Umberger said.

Parker is being held without bail in the Volusia County Branch Jail while he awaits trial.

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©2019 The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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