In a Facebook post late Sunday, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office said Deputy William Gentry was critically wounded while responding to a dispute between neighbors over a cat that had been shot.
Sheriff Paul Blackman told reporters that after speaking with the cat’s owner, Gentry approached the man suspected of shooting the cat, 69-year-old Joseph Edward Ables, at his Lake Placid front door. Blackman said Ables then shot Gentry in the head shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday.
The 40-year-old deputy was airlifted to a hospital. The sheriff’s office tweeted early Monday that Gentry remained hospitalized in critical condition.
Ables was arrested at the scene. Gentry had a deputy-in-training with him when he responded to the call, and neither man exchanged gunfire with Ables, Blackman said.
Ables was held without bond on charges that include attempted first-degree murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Jail records did not show whether he had an attorney.
The sheriff’s office statement said Ables was a convicted felon with a history of violence toward law enforcement.
Gentry is a field training officer and has served for over nine years with the sheriff’s office, where his brother is a detective, Blackman said.
“This is an unimaginable tragedy for our agency,” Blackman said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted late Sunday that he had offered “all state resources” to Blackman. “Hurting a (law enforcement officer) is pure evil (and) we won’t stand for it,” Scott wrote.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.