Paris Wilder: Man attacks Florida deputies, dies in shootout after injuring 1
Dashcam captures career criminal attacking cops with AR-15 before being killed, shooting one who suffered severe, but non-life-threatening injuries
MELBOURNE, FLORIDA: The Brevard County Sheriff's Office has released dashcam footage of an assault on two of its officers on August 30. Two deputies Brian Potters and Tyler Thoman were attacked by career criminal Paris Wilder during a routine traffic stop off of I-95 in Melbourne, Florida. The assault ended with Potters suffering severe, but non-life-threatening injuries and Wilder being killed in a shootout with Thoman.
The brutal attack by Wilder is one of the many on police officers this year, with 266 cops dying in the line of duty so far in 2021. On August 17, Deputy Brent Chitwood was shot in the chest during a traffic stop near Wichita Falls. Thankfully, he survived the incident, a fortune other brave cops did not have. On August 7, Chicago PD officer Ella French was killed after three suspects opened fire on her and her partner. Before that, in June, Officer Joe Burson of the Holly Springs PD was killed after being dragged by a motorist he was trying to stop.
It's unclear why Wilder attacked Potters and Thoman, but it could have to do with his extensive criminal record. Sheriff Wayne Ivey noted that Wilder had over 40 charges for various crimes and had two active felony warrants in his name at the time of the incident. Both officers in the incident have made it out alive, while Wilder was killed on the spot after a quick firefight.
Who was Paris Wilder?
The 38-year-old man was reportedly a resident of Cocoa, Florida. He has an extensive criminal record with 40 previous arrests and 23 felony charges for crimes including Robbery with a Firearm, Aggravated Assault with a Weapon, multiple narcotics offenses, Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer, and Attempted First Degree Felony Murder. At the time of the August 30 incident, he was out on bond for two felony drug charges, police say. Wilder also had two active felony warrants against his name that day.
Voter records list Wilder as a Black non-Hispanic male registered to vote in Brevard County. The records note he has no known political party affiliation. Little else is known about Wilder, beyond his rap sheet. Records show he has been arrested since 2002, with six charges dismissed and a further 17 dropped. In Brevard County alone, he was convicted of 12 charges, a record that has left Ivey furious. "Why is a thug with this kind of criminal history even given a bond where he can be out on our streets to harm someone else?" he asked in the video.
It's not clear if Wilder had any family. During the traffic stop, he was in the car with a woman, a two-month-old baby, and a dog. Another man was also seen at the spot and ran away after Wilder opened fire. It is unclear how they are related to Wilder at the moment, but Ivey noted: "Neither of these occupants had anything to do with the ambush." He also added that none of them, including the child, were injured in the firefight, despite being "directly in the line of fire".
Wilder shoots deputies, hits one on head
On August 30, Potters and Thoman pulled over a car on West New Haven Avenue. Thoman was seen talking to the woman, as Potters approaches the car and asks Wilder to step out. Thoman and the woman can be heard talking about their children, but what Potters says to Wilder is not clear. When Wilder exits the vehicle, he immediately takes out a gun and shoots at Potters. "I'm hit!" he yells out from behind the police car, while Thoman too takes cover. Wilder is then seen hopping on one foot, indicating he too was hit, but it is unclear by who.
Wilder then goes from behind the vehicles to approach Potters from the back. He then hits the officer on his head with his AR-15 multiple times, while Thoman takes cover behind the second police car. Thoman then approaches Wilder from behind and fires multiple shots, while he is down. The whole incident just lasts a few minutes, ending with Wilder being killed on the spot.
Potters was reportedly shot in the lower leg and suffered multiple head lacerations. Ivey noted that he suffered "tissue damage, a concussion, and fractures", while Thoman was not injured. Potters was rushed to a local hospital, where his injuries were deemed to be not life-threatening. He is expected to make a full recovery. Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, as is standard protocol. "Let there be no doubt, this individual got exactly what he deserved," Ivey said in the video statement.