WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - A Polk County man is in the hospital Saturday after the sheriff says he shot himself and pointed his weapon at a deputy, forcing him to open fire.
The sheriff's office says 53-year-old James Bush was at his home on Highland Avenue in Winter Haven Friday night when his ex-girlfriend came over to pick up her dog from the property. According to deputies, Bush had been drinking, and he locked the gate behind her, refusing to let her leave. He had a handgun, and reportedly threatened to kill her and himself.
The ex-girlfriend then called Bush's brother, who tried to talk to him over the phone. After hanging up the phone, deputies say James shot himself under the chin, and his ex-girlfriend called 911.
When deputies arrived, they say Bush was still conscious and pointing his gun at them. He ignored commands to drop the gun and cocked it, at which point a deputy shot Bush in the right arm. Bush then grabbed the gun with his other hand, and the deputy shot him in the left arm and Bush dropped the gun.
Sheriff Grady Judd says the deputy who opened fire put his own life at risk to try to save Bush's life.
"The protocols are - you shoot to stop the threat," Judd said in an interview Saturday morning. "Trying to shoot arms and legs intentionally is a very dangerous maneuver because if you miss, it gives him the opportunity to shoot and kill you. But I applaud the fact that he was doing everything possible to save James' life last night."
Investigators have been on the scene interviewing witnesses since the shooting. The sheriff says their stories about what happened all line up with what deputies observed. No one else was hurt in the shooting.
Bush remains in extremely critical condition at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. The sheriff says he is not expected to survive.
The deputy who shot Bush in the arms has been suspended with pay, pending an investigation.