NEW PORT RICHEY — Two Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies were wounded early Saturday in a gun battle that started after a man shot at his wife's Amazon Alexa smart speaker.
One bullet grazed a deputy's hand, and another wounded the accused shooter in the head. But K-9 Deputy Chris Stone suffered life-threatening injuries when a gunshot to his leg severed his femoral artery, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said. Stone, 41, was rushed into emergency surgery at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point and was recuperating in his hospital room Saturday afternoon, the Sheriff's office said.
A deputy with the agency since 2017, Stone could have easily bled to death at the scene had it not been for his fellow deputies’ quick thinking, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
The man accused of starting the shootout, Terrance J. Peterson, 62, was arrested at the scene. Both Peterson and the other wounded deputy, who has not been named, were expected to fully recover from their injuries.
Deputies arrived at 7349 Humbolt Ave. after a woman called 911 around midnight to report a domestic dispute between her parents. Peterson had shot at her mother's Alexa, the daughter told deputies. The couple had been known to fight but usually their arguments did not escalate to calling the police, Nocco said.
Peterson's wife came outside as soon as deputies arrived. Nocco said she had been battered and her husband refused to leave his home. Inside, he had a handgun and a semi-automatic rifle.
Just before 2 a.m., deputies said they decided to enter the home after Peterson refused to surrender. That's when bullets began to spray from the house and into the surrounding suburban neighborhood. As they entered the home, Sheriff's deputies exchanged fire with Peterson, Nocco said.
"The suspect tired to kill everybody that was outside that house," Nocco said. "This was a battle. An absolute gun battle."
The gunfire didn't stop after a bullet struck Deputy Stone's leg, slicing through the large artery in his thigh that supplies blood to the lower body. As shots rang, other deputies worked to wrap a tourniquet around his wound, Nocco said. The Sheriff credited the surrounding deputies fast-thinking and training for saving not only his limb, but also his life.
When the bullets quieted, deputies could not get in contact with Peterson. The SWAT team and negotiators arrived, attempting to contact him until about 4 a.m. At that point, officers deployed a gas bomb inside the house and sent a robot in after. Through its camera, they saw Peterson motionless on the floor, blood trickling from his head.
Nocco said early Saturday morning it was not yet known if the wound was self-inflicted or from one of the deputies. Peterson was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The area near Seven Springs Boulevard and Humboldt Avenue was shut to traffic for hours as investigators examined the crime scene. Homes and Sheriff's vehicles were pierced with bullet holes, Nocco said.
"It's a nasty crime scene," he said. "This individual had full intentions to kill deputies."
Peterson will be charged with one count of domestic violence and at least five counts of attempted murder, according to the Sheriff's Office. Nocco said Peterson had been arrested for domestic battery before. The couple usually called their daughter, rather than police during disputes. This time was no different.
"The mother called the daughter," Nocco said. "The reason she was upset was because he shot at the Alexa. The Alexa must have been personal to her."
A Google image of the home taken in January 2019 shows a sign next to the front door: It says "We don't call 911," with a picture of a handgun.
Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.