• Brevard deputy fatally shot, couple with long criminal history arrested

    Updated:

    MELBOURNE, Fla.,None - A Brevard County deputy was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Melbourne on Tuesday, according to authorities.

    Deputy Barbara Pill was shot multiple times when she pulled over an SUV in response to a theft at an Econo Lodge motel, Brevard County Sheriff Jack Parker said during a news conference.

    "Our worst nightmare has come true," Parker said. "She is a tremendous loss to our community."

    Investigators said the couple had stolen furniture from the hotel near Highway 192 and I-95. Someone called authorities to report the theft, Parker said.



    The sheriff said Pill responded to the scene, and pulled over the SUV that Brandon Lee Bradley, 22, and Andria Michelle Kerchner, 19, were in.

    Bradley apologized to Pill's family as he was escorted out of the Sheriff's Office after he and Kerchner were each charged with murder.

    "I'm sorry," said Bradley.

    "I didn't shoot the deputy" said Kerchner as she was walked out of the Sheriff's Office.

    Bradley was charged with 11 crimes including robbery and first-degree murder.

    Kerchner was charged with first-degree murder and two other crimes.

    Parker said Pill approached the vehicle and the pair did not comply with her commands.

    "She was never one to stray away from danger," said Parker.

    Pill called for backup, and as responding deputies approached the scene, Bradley shot Pill three times in her bullet proof vest and once in the head, killing her.

    "It was very quick. She was making radio transmissions at the time we heard gunfire come over the radio," Parker stated.  

    Authorities said Bradley and Kerchner fled the scene and abandoned their vehicle in a neighborhood.

    "I was in the front yard at Cypress Bend and I heard five shots," said resident Julie Long.

    However, Parker said a neighbor saw the pair and called police. Bradley and Kerchner got back in their SUV and drove off, he said.

    The sheriff said the Melbourne Police Department tracked down the SUV and used Stop Sticks to disable the vehicle.

    Parker said the SUV crashed into a ditch, and the pair gave up when they were surrounded by police, Brevard deputies and the Florida Highway Patrol.

    Bradley and Kerchner were arrested, and charges were pending against them, Parker said.

    The sheriff said Bradley had a long and violent criminal history, including aggravated assault, kidnapping and drugs.

    Parker said Bradley had four warrants out for his arrest.

    Kerchner also had a criminal history, including larceny, petty theft, battery and criminal mischief.

    Pill had served in law enforcement for more than 30 years, and was a highly decorated deputy, Parker said.

    Her heartbroken comrades gathered to console one another, and others lamented the loss of a woman they didn't even know. 

    Brevard County deputies were at Holmes Regional Medical Center, where she was taken after the shooting, to show support for Pill.

    "She is the kind of person who was always engaged, always doing things, that's, again, why she was on this scene today. She was the first one on scene," said Parker.

    The sheriff said Pill was one of the kindest, nicest people he ever met, and she was a mother and a grandmother.

    One of her sons, Ryan, is an officer with the Melbourne Village Police Department, and her other son is a Brevard County deputy. Pill's daughter-in-law is a crime scene investigator with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, Parker said.

    "Her whole family is an incredible family," Parker said. "She's one of those heroes behind the scenes."

    Michael Inghram was at the hospital and told WFTV that he was sad to see how Pill's fellow deputies reacted to her death.

    "I just saw all the officers inside. [They were] sad, somber," Inghram said.

    Pill worked with at-risk children in the community, as well as raising her children to carry on the family tradition of serving and protecting the community, Parker said.

    The sheriff said Pill raised people who are dedicated to putting themselves in harm's way to protect the rest of us.

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