Bonifay Shootout Update

By: Hermelinda Vargas
By: Hermelinda Vargas

It may be weeks before FDLE completes its investigation into this weekend's shootout between five law enforcement officers and a Bonifay man.

The suspect, who has a history of mental health problems, is still on life support in a Dothan hospital. Meanwhile, a police officer he's accused of shooting undergoes his own painful recovery.

Bonifay Police Officer Steven Lee won't speak of the shooting that nearly ended his life until FDLE completes its investigation. Saturday morning Officer Lee responded to a complaint about 40-year-old Dwight McWaters of Bonifay.

According to eyewitnesses, McWaters ran into the house, got a gun and began firing at Lee. McWaters allegedly continued to fire as four other law enforcement officers arrived on the scene and returned fire.

Lee's dad, Ronald Lee, is also a law enforcement officer and he says he's glad his son is alive, but he says the shootout could have been prevented if mental health agencies had identified some warning signs.

"If the agencies or doctors that evaluate them would have done their job like they should have done their job this would have never have happened. My son wouldn't have been shot and the victim, he wouldn't have been shot."

Just five months before the shooting a local judge ordered McWaters to undergo psychiatric evaluation. In a letter to the judge, McWaters’ own sister wrote that he had reached a point where he was a threat to both himself and society.

Doctors released him from Bay Medical Behavioral Healthcare Center after only a few days.

Family members standing at Dwight McWaters’ bedside say they have no comment about Saturday's shootout or events leading up to it, but one family member says she is sad not only for her family, but also for the family of Officer Steven Lee.

Officer Lee is in stable condition after two surgeries. McWaters suffered a gunshot wound to the neck. Authorities won't say if the wound was self-inflicted or a result of the shootout.


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