Jacksonville, Florida police officer Pete Soulis knew something wasn’t right when he was about to turn loose a suspicious motorist named Joseph McGrotha. Officer Soulis tried to run a computer check from his car on McGrotha’s identification but the computer was down. If the computer had been working, Soulis would have found that McGrotha had just got out of jail after serving time on a drunken driving charge. McGrotha also had been arrested on charges of robbery, burglary and narcotics violations. When Soulis went to return McGrotha’s identification, the criminal took aim at Soulis. A 9mm slug bounced off Soulis’ bulletproof vest, and McGrotha kept firing. Soulis returned fire. Soulis found himself in “one of the most epic shoot-outs.”
More than 30 bullets were fired. McGrotha died after being shot about 20 times. Soulis survived. He was shot through the left arm three times and once near the left thigh. Since then, Soulis has been awarded the Medal of Valor, Purple Heart, Military Order of the Purple Heart, SWAT Man of the Year, and the Florida SWAT Associations Award of Merit, among others. He was also awarded The Outstanding Civilian Service Medal and the Commanders Award for Civilian Service for his participation in Operation Enduring Freedom while deployed with the U.S Army in Afghanistan. Soulis is retelling the story of his shoot-out with McGrotha on In an Instant, Saturday, April 11 at 9pm on ABC.