Sheriff addresses officer-involved shooting

OKEECHOBEE – At 3 p.m. Tuesday, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) issued a press release about an incident involving a use of lethal force the previous day by deputies.

On Monday, Aug. 6, at approximately 8:10 p.m., a domestic violence situation took place within Okeechobee County. “My office was contacted and responded, which led to a suspect arming himself with a firearm and fleeing from my deputies. A low-speed chase ensued, with deputies pursuing this suspect to another location within Okeechobee County,” Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel E. Stephen stated at a news conference.

He continued: “At this point, the armed suspect confronted my deputies while he held a firearm to his own head. OCSO deputies starting communicating with the armed suspect while they secured the other residents within the area. My Crisis Negotiation Team and my Special Response Team, comprised of OCSO deputies and members of the Okeechobee Police Department, were summoned to the scene to assist with the situation.

“On the same date, at approximately 11 p.m., the armed suspect chose to approach OCSO deputies while still armed. Several ‘less than lethal’ rounds were fired upon the armed suspect but were unsuccessful in ceasing the armed suspect’s advancement towards the deputies. Lethal force then had to be applied, and the armed suspect was subdued. He was later pronounced deceased by Okeechobee County Fire Rescue.

“The case has been turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office for further investigation.”

Sheriff Stephen closed his press release by stating: “Each of my deputies have been touched by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Critical Incident Team as well as my agency chaplain, Brother Joe Bishop. The deputies and officer who engaged the armed suspect are on administrative leave with pay pending the initial investigation phase. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families involved along with my men and women. We train for these situations and hope the day never comes, but it is the scary direction of our society today.”

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