Suspect killed by deputies after shooting deputy in face, sheriff says

Palm Beach County deputy shot on his 29th birthday

By Associated Press, Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - A gang member was killed by Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies after he shot a deputy in the face during a confrontation, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw said a narcotics task force was attempting to serve warrants to search a house and a car Thursday night in Palm Beach Gardens when the confrontation began. He said the task force had probable cause to arrest the suspect on four separate narcotics buys.

The sheriff said the wounded deputy's 29th birthday was Thursday.

"Happy birthday to him," Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw said the suspect fired at least two shots, one of which struck his deputy in the cheek. He said deputies returned fire, killing the suspect.

The deputy was undergoing surgery at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. He was expected to survive.

Bradshaw said deputies had hoped to arrest the suspect so he could be questioned by the FBI about the gang member's involvement in the drug operation.

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office released this photograph showing the dead suspect still clutching the gun in his hand.

Teri Barbera, a spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, said the deputies involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard protocol.

She said the suspect, identified as Michael Nieto, 32, is a convicted felon with a long history of arrests, including discharging a firearm in public, burglary and grand theft.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating.

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