Murder suspect arrested

OKEECHOBEE — As David Schwendenmann grabbed the loaded and cocked .410 bore shotgun on the seat beside him Friday, July 29, deputies Jose Garduno and Yero Todman both shouted: “GUN! GUN! GUN!” Then, they opened fire — striking the man three times.

Schwendenmann, who was the prime suspect in the shooting death of his 48-year-old wife Angela at the time, was then airlifted to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce where he stayed until Thursday, Aug. 11.

Upon his release from the hospital, Schwendenmann was arrested and officially charged with shooting his wife in the neck with slug round fired from a shotgun. It’s not yet been officially determined which shotgun fired that fatal round.

David Schwendenmann

David Schwendenmann

Schwendenmann, 50, is being held without bond in the Okeechobee County Jail on charges of premeditated first-degree murder with a firearm, one count of attempted first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer with a firearm, robbery with a firearm and aggravated battery on a pregnant person.

A probable cause affidavit states when the two Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) deputies stopped firing, Schwendenmann had been hit once in the chest and twice in the upper right thigh.

According to that affidavit by OCSO Detective Corporal Rosemary Farless the couple were arguing in their S.E. 58th Drive home around 5 p.m. that hot Friday evening when, according to a witness, there was a ‘BOOM!’

The witness then walked into the home’s living room and “… saw Angela laying on the floor in a pool of blood,” stated the affidavit.

By now Angela’s husband of 19 years had left the home.

A witness reportedly told Cpl. Farless that he knocked on the home’s front door. When no one answered he peeked through a window above an air conditioner and saw the woman lying “… on her back with blood all over the ground.”

Cpl. Farless also stated that, in an interview with another witness, the Schwendenmanns had engaged in a “very bad” argument about two to three weeks prior to the shooting. That argument ended when Schwendenmann allegedly picked up a shotgun and hit his wife on the left side of her head with the butt of the gun.

The force of the blow knocked Angela to the floor, continued the affidavit.

Cpl. Farless noted in her report that during the woman’s autopsy a fading bruise with yellowish coloring was found on the left side of Angela’s head.

After leaving the couple’s home, states the detective, Schwendenmann drove to his daughter’s home at a U.S. 441 S.E. RV park. He now needed another vehicle because the spare tire on the blue four-door Toyota he was driving was flat.

Once inside his daughter’s home, the man reportedly pushed his forearm against her upper chest, wrapped his finger’s around her throat and squeezed, the report stated. The young woman is 15 weeks pregnant.

In a later interview she apparently told Cpl. Farless that even though her father was squeezing her throat with his fingers, it wasn’t “… as hard as he has in the past.”

As Schwendenmann demanded she give him the keys to the Explorer her fiancé, who was just wanting to get him out of their home, gave him the keys.

After Schwendenmann had left, the fiancé waved down OCSO Deputy Bart Potter, who then got on the radio and issued an alert for Schwendenmann.

Before leaving his daughter’s home, the man transferred the three shotguns, as well as several rounds of shotgun shells, from the blue Toyota Camry into the Explorer.

After deploying stop sticks at Brother’s RV Park, 8190 U.S. 441 S.E., deputies Garduno and Todman waited. Soon, they saw the white Ford Explorer coming their way. It came to a screeching halt before reaching those stop sticks.

The deputies then ran up to the vehicle, and Cpl. Farless stopped her unmarked vehicle directly behind the white SUV.

“I could hear Todman or Garduno yelling to David: ‘Put your hands up! Put your hands up! GUN!,’” stated the detective’s report. “Then I heard: ‘Don’t touch the gun! Don’t touch the gun!’ I saw D/S Garduno shoot David Schwendenmann.”

After the man was taken out of the SUV, OCSO Deputy Sergeant Chris Hans “… removed several handfuls of shotgun shells” from the pockets of Schwendenmann’s shorts, added the report.

Cpl. Farless also detailed how three fully-loaded shotguns were found in the Ford when she and other detectives later executed a search warrant on the vehicle. The .410, she said, was not only loaded but also was cocked.

Assistant state attorney Don Richardson, who will be prosecuting this case, said Schwendenmann is only charged with one count of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer because he looked directly into the eyes of Deputy Garduno, but did not look at Deputy Todman.

“He made eye contact with Deputy Garduno as he picked up the shotgun,” he explained.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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