BRANDON, Fla. — A shooter was arrested Thursday after a firefight with Hillsborough County deputies.
Part of Brandon Blvd. was shut down in both directions for much of the afternoon while the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office worked their investigation. The shootings happened around the 1 p.m. hour Thursday.
The sheriff's office says deputies were called to the report of shots fired at the Wash Up-Brandon car wash off Brandon Blvd. Sheriff Chad Chronister said deputies arrived within moments, and upon arrival, the sheriff's office says deputies witnessed Daniel Lighty, 35, firing a weapon.
As deputies approached Lighty, the sheriff's office says he began firing shots toward them, striking a marked patrol vehicle.
"When you want to talk about the grace of God, here’s another prime example: the round hit the vehicle just behind the front seat of the passenger side of her patrol car. A few inches forward, and I’d be sitting here having a much different discussion with you this afternoon," said Chronister.
The sheriff's office says one deputy returned fire but that no one was struck during the incident.
After some time, Chronister explained Lighty returned to his car and called 911, saying he was frustrated with the mental health care he received at a local hospital. A crisis negotiator was then put on the line and talked with the man.
"At some point during the conversation of this lengthy conversation, he said he wanted help. Our negotiator said, 'We will get you that help that you need. You just have to exit the vehicle,'" said Chronister. "He said, 'I don’t want to get shot.' The deputy assures him, 'You’re not going to get shot. Get out of the vehicle without the gun with your hands up, and you’ll be taken into custody peacefully.' And that’s exactly how this ended here today.”
"From a law enforcement standpoint and a mental health standpoint, I think the deputies did everything correctly today,” said Natasha A. Pierre, a mental health advocate and crisis intervention training partner for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Pierre says the crisis intervention training is a mandatory, 40-day program that instructs deputies how to interact with a person with behavioral or mental health crises.
"A person like what we saw today is at the point of hopelessness and today could very easily have been a suicide or suicide by cop," she said. "I'm grateful that we are able to have a better outcome."
In the end, Chronister said no one was injured despite the exchange of gunfire. The gunman is from South Carolina, and Chronister said this was the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office's first contact with Lighty and that they don't know why his state of mind was in a crisis.
According to Sheriff Chronister, the shooter's girlfriend saw him on Facebook Live walking around a parking lot talking to people and informed them he suffered from some sort of mental health crisis.
Witnesses who worked nearby recounted to ABC Action News hearing gunshots as the incident unfolded.
"I was out there working. I work at the nail shop right there," said Ricky Nguyen. "We were working on clients, and out of nowhere, I hear a whole magazine go off, about 15 rounds. So we ran outside, and we saw a bunch of people group up and taking cover, and the police told everyone, 'If you can see this building, you will be shot.' So it was crazy, said a lot of gunfire over there from what the officer was saying.”
Lighty is facing several charges including three counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.