Accused Cop Killer Arrested in Fort Pierce

Sgt. Gary Morales was shot and killed Thursday morning during a routine traffic stop in St. Lucie.

The 35-year-old husband and father, who had served on the force for 13 years, was shot multiple times and succumbed to his wounds at a Fort Pierce hospital not long after.

Police say they have the accused shooter, 25-year-old Eriese Alphonso Tisdale, in custody.

The senseless killing of a decorated officer on duty seems to have gone down this way:

Morales pulled over a car around 9:30 a.m. Thursday (it's currently not known what the offense was) in the 3200 block of Naylor Terrace in Fort Pierce.

Morales then called in his location, giving the dispatcher the car's make, license plate number, and other routine information.

Suddenly, and without provocation, the driver got out of his vehicle and began firing. While Morales managed to open the squad car door to get into position to fire back, he never had a chance to unholster his weapon.

It happened that fast and without warning.

Another deputy arrived on the scene and exchanged fire with the driver, who then jumped back into his car and fled.

Police gave chase, and the driver eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a tree several blocks away. He was identified as Tisdale and arrested.

According to records, Tisdale is a repeat offender, having been arrested on drug and traffic charges, including five arrests in Palm Beach County since 2007.

Tisdale is facing charges of first-degree murder, assault on an officer, possession of a weapon by a felon, and resisting an officer and fleeing to elude. He is expected to make his first court appearance Friday.

As for Morales, who had recently been promoted to sergeant, he leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. He also leaves behind a legacy for his fellow officers to remember.

"We lost one of our heroes today," said St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph