Florida deputies found dead in suspected murder-suicide

Florida deputies found dead in suspected murder-suicide

A Florida sheriff’s deputy killed a fellow deputy he was in a relationship with before taking his own life on vacation with colleagues, authorities said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Det. Daniel Leyden and his romantic partner, a fellow deputy, were found dead late Saturday at a rental home in St. Augustine, department officials said in a statement.

The couple was “arguing in a bedroom” before gunshots were heard by other deputies who were vacationing with them, Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

Leyden, who worked in the agency’s Criminal Investigations Division, was then found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

He is believed to be the sole shooter.

The unnamed victim — a deputy who worked in a uniform patrol unit — was also found dead from a gunshot wound, police said.

Investigators were working to determine a motive in the suspected murder-suicide, Chronister said.

“Our sheriff’s office family is still reeling from the shock of this unthinkable tragedy,” Chronister said. “My prayers for strength and comfort are with the families and loved ones of these deputies, and every member of Team HCSO affected by this painful loss.”

According to police, the incident occurred on January 29, 2022 in St. Augustine.
According to police, the incident occurred on January 29, 2022 in St. Augustine.
Christopher Sadowski

A St. Augustine resident who lives near the home told WJXT he heard police officers using megaphones to tell people inside to come out before the deputies were found dead.

“Police was out front and kept repeating for Daniel to come out with his hands up,” Kieran Wallace told the station. “It was a little bit alarming. About 30 minutes later we got a phone call that said we had to lock our doors and stay inside.”

Authorities later found the deputies dead inside the vacation rental, a sheriff’s office spokesperson told WJXT.

“This is an isolated incident and there is no threat to the public,” the spokesperson said.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is handling an investigation into the suspected murder-suicide, authorities said.

“Violence is never a solution, and I urge any employee who is dealing with a crisis to take advantage of the many resources our agency has created over the past several years which include peer support, chaplains, and a clinical psychologist,” Chronister said. “Help is just a phone call away.”

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