NewsPolk County


Man battling 'mental health crisis' fatally shot after pointing gun at deputies, Sheriff Judd says

Posted at 10:01 PM, Dec 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 23:16:48-05

POLK COUNTY, Fla. -- A man battling mental health issues was shot and killed in what Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd described as "a classic suicide by cop" Thursday night.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call from a woman on Congress Avenue in Auburndale. The woman told dispatchers that her son threatened to take his own life if she called 911.

The mother said her adult son, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and depression, was making suicidal statements.

Deputies said the man was armed upon arrival. Sheriff Judd said two of the deputies on scene fatally shot the man after the man pointed his gun at the deputies.

The deputies immediately began to render aid to the man and summoned Polk County Fire Rescue. He was transported to LRHMC where he died from his injuries.

Sheriff Judd said the man was suffering from a "mental health crisis."

The handgun he pointed at deputies was a loaded .32 caliber snub-nosed revolver.

"I'm angry he didn't give us the opportunity to help him," Sheriff Judd said.

Last month, the sheriff's office investigated another deputy-involved shooting they called a suicide by cop involving a recently widowed 60-year old man. But the sheriff said they receive thousands of calls each year to help those in mental health crisis.

"We're seeing more mental health issues, more mental health crisis than ever in the decades of experience that I have," Sheriff Judd said.

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay works to help those dealing with mental health issues. It says after the holidays they typically may see an increase in calls to the center, calls they're there to answer 24/7.

"I think the biggest issue we see is people don't know where to go for help," said Emily Marino

Marino is a suicide prevention care coordinator at the crisis center. She said if you need help or think you're loved one may call 211or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can learn more information here.

"If they come to you with suicidal thoughts, depression, things like that, just be open, be kind, you know listen," she said. "You can't say the wrong thing if you're coming from a good place."

How to get help for someone who might be suicidal

If you or anyone you know are having suicidal thoughts, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.