Suspect released from hospital, charged with attempted murder of Bay County criminal investigator

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The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating a deputy-involved shooting in Bay County.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – A suspect who allegedly tried to shoot a criminal investigator was released from the hospital and appeared before a judge this week.

According to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Michael Caleb Barrett, 38, engaged in a physical altercation with criminal investigator, Dakota Merritt, on April 29 near a gazebo behind Wash Depot on 11th Street in Panama City.

It was believed Barret stole $5,000 from a home in Callaway.

Michael Caleb Barrett

In the altercation, deputies said Barrett hit the investigator in the face with his own gun and then tried to shoot him. Merritt then got his gun away from Barrett and shot him. Both went to the hospital with injuries.

Barrett was booked into the Bay County Jail on Tuesday and appeared before a judge Wednesday. He was charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and aggravated battery. He is currently being held without bond.

Barrett’s arrest report revealed more details about the physical altercation between him and the investigator.

Deputies wrote that Barrett grabbed the investigator’s gun and holster and removed it from Merritt’s waist. Barrett then struck Merritt in the face with the firearm.

In the report, deputies said Merritt’s nose was severely broken and his orbital bone around his eye was fractured. His injuries required numerous stitches.

Despite Merritt’s injuries, the altercation continued and the two fought for control over the gun. “The defendant was attempting to point the firearm towards Inv. Merritt’s upper chest and face,” wrote deputies. ”

They also wrote that Barrett pulled the trigger in an attempt to shoot Merritt but due to Merritt’s grip on the gun, it did not fire.

Merritt was able regain control of the gun and shot the suspect.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the incident, and placed Merritt on administrative leave. Both actions are normal procedure in law enforcement shooting incidents.

According to court records, Barrett had just finished a three-month probation after pleading no contest in December for fleeing law enforcement and grand theft of a motor vehicle. The records state he stole a Peaden Air Conditioning van and was arrested after abandoning the van and being captured during a foot chase.

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