ST. PETERSBURG, Florida. – A Florida sheriff’s deputy fatally shot his wife, granddaughter and daughter before he radioed dispatchers to say that he would hurt his family early Wednesday, when death came in front of colleagues-deputies in the vicinity of a high school, authorities said.
The events unfolded before students arrived for school in Plant City, a rural community east of Tampa.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister noted that the deputy 58-year-old Terry Strawn, who in 2009 was named ” driver of the Year.”
“There was no indication, no problem issues,” Chronister said. “Nothing that would lead an employee to believe that this employee was struggling.”
Strawn went on the section to the main radio channel just before 7 a.m. Wednesday to say he had harmed his family. The deputy mentioned financial and health problems, and said that he would go to kill himself in the near of the local high school, the sheriff said.
“The whole dialogue on the radio, the dispatchers did a fantastic job of trying to convince him that suicide is not the answer,” Chronister said.
The sheriff said three other deputies quickly located Strawn, and they made “every effort to try to convince this deputy sheriff that there is another way, that there is a different solution.”
“Unfortunately, the deputy took his own life in the scene in front of the other deputies,” Chronister said.
Strawn used his service revolver in any of the shootings.
The deputy had ties to the sheriff’s office dating back to 1991, when he was hired as a jail deputy. He was a patrol officer a few years later.
According to local media archives, he and another deputy shot and killed a man in the line of duty in 2004. The man pointed with his metal and plastic tool at the officers as they tried to arrest him during a domestic violence call. Fearing the object was a gun, the deputies fired their weapons.
Chronister said he was briefly interrupted in 1998 for the violation of sheriff’s office property and was disciplined in 2016 for two traffic crashes.
Farewell of the office in 2017, then he returned to duty as a contracted school safety officer, a function that some schools in Florida made after the Stoneman Douglas High School massacre last February in South Florida.
Chronister said the agency had recently told Strawn that he would be hired full-time as a school officer.
“He had done a wonderful job. Phenomenal,” the sheriff said. “When we hired him back, he went through an extensive background and psychological testing.”
Strawn took the life of his 54-year-old woman, 32-year-old daughter and his 6-year-old granddaughter.
He was a safety officer at a primary school in another suburb of Tampa that his granddaughter attended.
This is the second time that a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputy was involved in a murder-suicide in recent months. On Sept. 24, a deputy killed his wife and then himself, while the couple’s four children were at home.