Trooper of the year thought: 'I may not make it home.'

Florida Highway Patrol honors Nickolas Dolan as Trooper of the Year

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A five-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol is this year’s Trooper of the Year, in part because of his heroism caught on dashcam video during a deadly encounter with an armed man.

Trooper Nickolas Dolan smiled as the governor presented him with the Trooper of the Year award, but last February Dolan was in fear of his life. Marion County deputies were chasing an active shooter, and asked for help, said Col. Gene Spaulding, FHP director.

“Gentleman was shooting a .50-caliber rifle at construction equipment at a known protest location at one of the pipelines,” Spaulding told the governor. 

The suspect crossed into Citrus County where deputies picked up the chase, the FHP director continued.

“This was an active-shooter situation. He hears the lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office tell the deputies to pull over and put on their ballistic rifle vests before they engage the subject.”

Dolan was driving toward the fleeing suspect. 

“Feb. 26 last year changed my life forever,” said the trooper.

As the suspect passed, the report says, he pointed a handgun at Dolan but didn’t fire.

In hot pursuit, Dolan was about to execute what is called a pursuit termination, or PIT, maneuver when he momentarily backed off.  Spaulding explained why.

“These two motorcycles (were) coming in the opposite direction," the director said. "He had the presence of mind to hold off until they get in a safe location. He immediately engages the suspect in a PIT maneuver.”

The car slid into a ditch after the police cruiser ran into it.

The suspect then slid out of the truck while holding a handgun and wearing bulletproof equipment. He refuses to drop the weapon and shots were fired.

“I may not have made it home, but I wanted to make sure everybody else is OK,” Dolan told the governor.

But go home he did. Dolan said he regrets having to take a life that day but says he would do it again.