A Florida woman has been charged with murder after a young sheriff’s deputy died in friendly fire. Though the bullet that killed the deputy was a comrade’s, the suspect caused the death by fleeing the scene and pointing a “realistic-looking BB gun” at police, authorities say.
Cheryl Lynn Williams, 46, stands accused of 13 felony charges including murder in the second degree, in connection with the death of 21-year-old Blane Lane, who was killed in the line of duty in Polk City, Fla. early Tuesday morning.
The deceased man hailed from Fort Meade, Fla. and had only recently become a sheriff’s deputy, in January of this year.
“All this breaks our heart,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “This was his dream, to be a law enforcement officer. I just swore him in just a few months ago.”
At the time of the incident, law enforcement claim Williams was wanted for failure to appear in court on a drug possession charge.
At around 3 a.m. on the day in question, Lane and three other members of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) – Sergeant Michael Brooks, and Deputies Johnny Holsonback III and Adam Pennell – arrived at Williams’ house to serve a felony arrest warrant.
According to the PCSO, the defendant was determined to be somewhere in the back part of the residence at the time of their arrival, citing a witness on the scene. A second witness then allegedly said: “She’s in here,” which caused Lane to assume a position near the rear of the building as the other three deputies went inside.
“Lane’s tactical position afforded him the view of the door and windows to ensure that he would see the suspect in the event she tried to flee,” the PCSO said in a lengthy written statement.
Williams then appeared, brandishing a “silver handgun,” later determined to be a “very realistic-looking BB gun,” the sheriff’s office said.
A hail of gunfire ensued.
Williams was struck at least twice – but so was Lane, once. The friendly fire entered his arm and the bullet made its way into his chest. He later died at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center.
The defendant was also transported to a local hospital for multiple gunshot wounds. She is said to be in stable condition.
Judd later released a written statement on the case:
When deputies arrived at this residence following up on a Crime Stoppers tip that Cheryl Williams was there with an active warrant, they gave her every opportunity to turn herself in. She made the choice to hide, and then to jump out while pointing a gun at them. Everyone in that house is a convicted felon with a criminal history, but all they had to do was cooperate, and this tragedy would never have occurred. Cheryl Williams would have been taken into custody peacefully, and would solely be facing her original failure to appear charge. Now she is responsible for the death of Deputy Lane, a young man who had his entire life ahead of him, eager to serve the people of Polk County while making a positive difference as a law enforcement officer.
A memorial fund has been established for Blane’s family.
“One of the many great things about Polk County, and there are many, is the people who live here. We have seen it happen over, and over again—tragedy befalls upon a person, a family, or a community, and the people of Polk County rally around those who are suffering,” the PCSO said in a Facebook post.
[images via Polk County Sheriff’s Office]
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