Authorities ID machete-wielding man shot by deputy in Palm Harbor parking lot

EAST LAKE — First, Bradley James Gaus' wife thought her depressed husband was headed to Virginia.

Then she thought he was in Lakeland and later at an Oldsmar McDonald's.

Then Gaus popped up in the parking lot of an East Lake strip mall about 1:30 a.m. Monday, waving a machete, chasing a Pinellas County sheriff's sergeant around his police car, authorities said.

Then Gaus was in a helicopter, flying to Bayfront Medical Center with three gunshot wounds.

Gaus underwent surgery and was in serious condition Monday afternoon. Sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Metro shot the 26-year-old Oldsmar man three times in the torso, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

The confrontation came about 37 hours after his wife, Susan Gaus, first called the Sheriff's Office because she feared her husband was going to kill himself. She had returned home Saturday morning to find a note from her husband saying goodbye, according to sheriff's Sgt. Tom Nestor.

"He made statements to them (his family) that he wanted to die, that he wanted to commit suicide," Nestor said. "When Sgt. Metro encountered him, he didn't know anything other than he was coming at him with a machete."

The Sheriff's Office gave the following account: Metro, 43, saw Gaus driving erratically in a red Mitsubishi Eclipse in the area around Tampa Road and East Lake Road. Metro pulled him over in the parking lot of the Shoppes of Boot Ranch Plaza at 500 East Lake Road.

Both men got out of their cars. Gaus held a machete in his right hand. He raised it over his head and moved toward Metro.

Metro moved to the rear of his cruiser. Gaus followed. Metro moved to other side of his car. Gaus followed again.

Metro told Gaus several times to drop the machete. "You are going to have to shoot me," Gaus answered. Metro obliged.

A 20-year veteran of the agency, Metro is on paid administrative leave, standard procedure when a deputy is involved in a shooting.

Susan Gaus called the Sheriff's Office about noon Saturday to report her husband missing, according to Nestor. She tracked his movement with the couple's shared credit card, Nestor said.

The card was used Saturday in Lakeland, then Sunday at a McDonald's on Tampa Road.

Gaus and Metro's confrontation happened less than 3 miles from Gaus' home.

Monday's incident was the ninth law enforcement-involved shooting in the Tampa Bay area in 2011, and the sixth in Pinellas County. There have been four police-related shootings in Pinellas in the past five weeks, two of them fatal.

Monday's incident was also the second machete-related confrontation in Pinellas this month. A Largo man nearly severed three of his cousin's fingers with a machete during an altercation July 12.

Times researchers Caryn Baird and Carolyn Edds and staff writer Danny Valentine contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or whobson@sptimes.com.

Authorities ID machete-wielding man shot by deputy in Palm Harbor parking lot 07/25/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 25, 2011 11:55pm]

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