Deputies respond to reports of gunshots

OKEECHOBEE — A 60-year-old Okeechobee man was arrested Saturday evening after law enforcement received calls about possible gun shots being fired.

Danny Ray Payne, Northwest 30th Street, was arrested Dec. 2 on felony charges of aggravated assault on law enforcement officer and resisting officer with violence.

He also received misdemeanor charges of improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms and using firearm while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances or controlled substances. His bond was set at $16,500. Jail records indicate he has since been released on bond.

Danny Ray Payne, 60

According to an arrest report by Deputy Brian Cross, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), at approximately 6:10 p.m. he received a call from a neighbor personally known to him. The neighbor claimed to Deputy Cross in the call that Payne said he killed three people, the cops were looking for him and he would not let the cops take him. It was after this time that the neighbor decided to call Deputy Cross and inform him of Payne’s behavior and rhetoric.

Deputy Cross stated in his report that he called Deputy Sergeant Brian Hagan and informed him of the information he received. The report says that a short while later, the neighbor called Deputy Cross again and said that they heard four to six gun shots from what appeared to be a black .243 caliber bolt action rifle with a scope.

Deputy Cross then met with Deputies Lieutenant Shane Snyder and Sgt. Hagan, who were dispatched in regards to the call of shots fired, at the Sunoco gas station located at the 3000 block of U.S. 98 North to stage due to threats already made and to formulate a plan of action. Deputy Cross was contacted by the caller again and was told Payne was on the road and screamed to them to get their family and get out of there now.

According to a report by Lt. Snyder, upon arrival at the gas station Deputy Cross informed them that Payne had apparently fired multiple rounds with a rifle while at his residence, stated that he killed three people and that law enforcement was not going to take him if they showed up. The reports state that Lt. Snyder and Sgt. Hagan then left in an unmarked vehicle and attempted to locate Payne. Deputy Cross was on the phone with the complainant who was providing updates on Payne’s whereabouts at his home that was relayed to Lt. Snyder and Sgt. Hagan.

Lt. Snyder and Sgt. Hagan were able to locate Payne as they passed by his home, seated on his front porch and did not appear to have a gun in his possession. The deputies decided to turn around and pull into Payne’s driveway but noticed Payne was no longer on the front porch. As they passed by Payne’s home Deputy Cross told them that Payne had apparently returned to the porch.

As the deputies turned into the driveway entrance they could see Payne seated on his porch and Lt. Snyder activated his emergency lights approximately 35 yards away from the home. Lt. Snyder then saw Payne pick up a black bolt action rifle, and pull the bolt to the rear of the gun and then to the forward position in an apparent attempt to chamber a round into the rifle.

Sgt. Hagan and Lt. Snyder exited the unmarked vehicle with weapons drawn and announced numerous times “Sheriff’s Office, put the gun on the ground and show us your hands.” Payne sat in a chair and continuously pulled the bolt back then pushed it forward. The deputies continued to call for Payne to drop the rifle and warned him that he would be shot if he pointed it at them.

The deputies continued to order Payne to drop the weapon. Payne then placed the rifle on the floor and with Sgt. Hagan providing cover fire, Lt. Snyder approached Payne with his weapon drawn on him. Payne then reached down, picked the rifle back up and again tried to pull the bolt back and forth.

Lt. Snyder took cover behind a tree as he and Sgt. Hagan continued voice commands for Payne to put the weapon down. Payne this time set the rifle down on the butt stock and held it by the barrel. The deputies continued their verbal commands and was met with Payne placing the weapon on the floor.

At this time, Lt. Snyder reportedly rushed Payne just as he reached for the rifle, was able to close the distance and took Payne to the floor with Sgt. Hagan again providing cover. Payne was supposedly non compliant and refused orders to place his hands behind his back. The report notes that Sgt. Hagan and Lt. Snyder had to forcibly place Payne’s hands behind him in order to put him in handcuffs and were assisted by Deputy Cross upon his arrival at Payne’s residence.

Deputy Cross saw a .243 caliber rifle with scope on the ground that matched the callers identification of the weapon, a silver pistol on a table and a glass of what appeared to be whiskey on the rocks. One casing and unspent ammunition was also located on the porch. Lt. Snyder’s report noted that while Payne was handcuffed, he could smell the odor of alcohol from Payne’s breath and slur in his speech when he spoke.

When Payne was removed from the area, Lt. Snyder saw a rifle on the floor with a round in the chamber and a second round stuck between the magazine and the bolt, which seemingly caused it to malfunction. Lt. Snyder also took notice of the loaded .40 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-auto pistol and the partially consumed cup of alcohol on a table next to the chair where Payne sat.

The report concluded that Payne was transported to the Okeechobee County Jail. Crime Scene Investigator Jackie Moore, collected and placed into evidence the rifle and pistol. The neighbor who called Deputy Cross initially and provided updates throughout the incident provided a sworn audio interview that was also turned into evidence. Payne’s residence was turned over to his sister who informed law enforcement she would take care of his pets.

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