WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) - A rescue worker's arm was "filleted" by a suspect who was fighting to get away from a deputy, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Judd said rescue workers came to help a deputy subdue the suspect, who managed to gnaw the flesh off of one of their arms during the struggle.
Judd said it happened Thursday night just after 8:30 on Thornhill Road near Moonlite Pass in Winter Haven. Rescue workers were already on the scene of a car crash when the deputy arrived. A witness pointed the deputy to the alleged driver of a crashed vehicle, who was walking away from the scene.
The deputy asked the suspect, Breonski Gardner, for his driver's license, but was told "it's in the car, get 'em yourself," and kept walking, Judd said.
The deputy began to detain Gardner, and "the fight began" according to Judd, who added, "It was a heck of a fight."
Two rescue personnel - Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Kevin Shireman and EMT Gilbert Thomas - came to help the deputy and all three men ended up struggling with Gardner.
Judd said that's when Shireman was bitten.
"He turned around and he grabbed and bit the firefighter by the arm, and literally filleted him; ripped him from his elbow to his wrist. Just ripped every bit of the meat off," Judd described. "This guy was obviously under the influence of something as well."
Judd said Shireman needed emergency surgery, including skin grafts to repair his arm. His leg was also seriously hurt and will need surgery.
Shireman released a statement saying, "The support and encouragement I've received throughout this process has been overwhelming and I'm grateful. As you know, I have a very serious arm and leg injury. I don’t know how long my recovery will take, but I have amazing doctors, nurses and other professionals taking care of me. As soon as I recover, I plan to be back on the job serving Polk County. But before I can get back to work, my wife and doctors tell me I need to focus on my recovery. My family and I appreciate your prayers."