Get the Gun!
Neither deputy saw the .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol until Reynolds started firing rounds from it. Where he'd accessed the gun was a mystery. What wasn't in question-at least in Braman's mind-were the man's intentions.
A blast went off near Braman's head, rupturing his eardrum and heralding a high-pitched whine. Braman's hand shot up and seized Reynolds' forearm in a bid to keep the barrel of the pistol from being pointed at his head. A split-second later two more shots rang out. Bullets tore into Braman's arm and shoulder, but Braman stayed in the fight.
AUDIO: Listen to radio dispatch traffic.
For his part, Brady was still playing catch-up. He still hadn't seen the gun in Reynolds' hand, and the presence of the man's mother in the doorway only further confused the matter. A bullet whizzed past his disoriented head.
Where the hell are the rounds coming from? Reynolds' mother? What would that have felt like if it'd hit me in the head?
Brady allowed himself a split-second prayer and his synapses kicked into high gear, compensating for his initial confusion and allowing him to zero in on the threat over which Reynolds and Braman wrestled.
Braman lay atop Reynolds, using what remaining strength he had in his wounded left arm to pin the suspect's hand to the ground. Stacking his right hand atop his left and using both to pin down the shooter's hand still gripping the pistol, Braman yelled.
"GET THE GUN! GET THE GUN!!"
Brady seized the firearm, sweeping it from Reynolds' grasp.
With the gun secured, Reynolds' resistance was easily overcome. The deputies handcuffed him. Only then did Brady realize that he, too, had been struck.
Analysis and Recovery
"I honestly didn't think that John (Dep. Braman) had made it through the first volley of shots," says Brady. "When I heard John's voice, that was a good sound. That was a sweet sound."
For a brief moment, Braman didn't realize he was being shot at. To him, the initial discharge of the gun sounded like a TASER deployment, followed quickly by a muting sensation. "We almost didn't recognize what it was at first," he recalled. "It was just that quick and that unexpected."
Each deputy is thankful for the presence of the other, and that neither went in alone.
"It wasn't an in-progress disturbance that we were responding to," says Braman. "But the way we're trained, if you're going to make an arrest, you don't go by yourself. Just by training and habit and the way we do things and our policies, we're going to treat it like an in-progress emergency. We're going to have a two-person response, at minimum. That's how we respond."
Braman says that even though he had a clear view of the subject's hands and saw no indication that the man had a weapon, something alarmed him about the confrontation. "I knew something was going to go wrong," Braman says. He points to Reynolds' stance and his refusal to move away from the front door as two indicators that set off his instinctual warning flags.
It was also those very same instincts-honed and reinforced by repetitive, scenario-based training and experience in the field-that helped the two deputies survive the hail of gunfire. While they never saw the gun until after the suspect started squeezing off the rounds that triggered the life-and-death struggle, Brady and Braman had responded to the call with a plan. After all, both deputies had trained extensively and had responded to back up one another on numerous attempt-to-contact calls in the past. It's just that they never had one turn this deadly before.
If not for their training, instincts, and quick, tactical thinking under fire, there's little doubt that the Sheriff's Office would have been burying one or both officers. Instead, despite being struck by bullets, the deputies managed to subdue, disarm, and handcuff the shooter without having to return fire.
By Brady's estimate, the shooting happened in a matter of five to eight seconds. When it was over, the rest of the field force, along with paramedics, rushed to the scene. Braman was airlifted to a hospital in Daytona Beach for treatment. He spent the night there and was released the next day. Brady was taken by ambulance to the same hospital, where he was treated and released.