LEE COUNTY — Lee County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a 21-year-old man early Friday after a shootout in south Lee County.
Joseph Blake Powell, of the 12700 block of Vista Pine Circle, Fort Myers, was killed shortly after 2 a.m., according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies initially responded to Cadillac Jack’s Bar & Grill on U.S. 41 near Island Park Road after several calls came in about a fight involving 25 to 50 people brewing in the parking lot, authorities said. One caller said a person had a gun. Another said shots were fired.
As deputies approached the scene, they spotted a white sedan matching the description a caller provided, the Sheriff’s Office reported. Deputies pulled it over just south of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Alico Road. Powell, who was a passenger in the sedan, exited the vehicle armed with a pistol and ran north behind a nearby pharmacy, reports said.
As he ran Powell opened fire at deputies, Sheriff Mike Scott said at a news conference. Deputies returned fire and killed Powell. No deputies or bystanders were injured.
“Bottom line is the driver complied. The driver doesn’t have a scratch on his body, a hair out of place,” Scott said. “The passenger got out of the car, starts firing and he’s dead. There’s a moral to that story. The moral is, don’t point a gun at a deputy sheriff.
“Deadly force will be met with deadly force, every time.”
Scott didn’t elaborate on how many deputies were involved in the shooting, but said “multiple” deputies responded to the scene. They are currently on paid leave and their weapons are being examined for ballistics and other evidence, Scott said.
Southbound traffic on U.S. 41 was detoured to Alico Road on Friday morning.
It’s unclear if the driver, whose name was not released, will also face charges. Autopsy results will reveal if Powell was intoxicated.
“I’m just grateful we aren’t talking about a dead deputy,” Scott said. “These guys faced a violent encounter that was unacceptable. ... Imagine if something had broken out inside the club.”
Erik Lebsack, the owner of Cadillac Jack’s, said he had no idea who started the fight or why it started.
“It’s a family-owned business. We employee 25 to 30 people in Lee County and certainly don’t want people to think that was a usual occurrence,” Lebsack said about the parking lot fight and the shooting down the road. “We’ve never had anything like that before, and hopefully never will again.”
Lebsack said he doesn’t plan to add additional security or change the way they monitor crowds.
“We didn’t have any disturbances inside,” Lebsack said. “All night was perfectly calm. No pushing, no shoving, no nothing. ... The six bouncers we had on staff worked just fine and were doing what they were supposed to be doing. Again, the actual shooting didn’t happen in our bar or our parking lot.”
In 2012 there were six deputy-involved shootings in Lee County, one of which involved a man who pointed an AK-47 at deputies. This shooting marks the first in 2013.
Powell had a lengthy rap sheet, according to Sheriff’s Office records.
His nine previous felony arrests included armed burglary, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill as a minor and robbery. At 17, Powell was sentenced to 36 months incarceration followed by 36 months of probation for robbery with a weapon and first degree burglary. Sheriff’s Office records indicate he violated that probation.
“We have a young man and in that young span of life, he had a history of violence,” Scott said. “He lived by the sword, apparently, and he died by the sword.”