DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The man shot and killed Wednesday evening by Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies in the Regatta Bay neighborhood was an estranged husband who was holding his wife hostage on a construction site where she worked, according to Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden. Aden also said that based on the man’s criminal history and immigration status, he should not have been able to get a gun.
OCSO said in a Wednesday news release that the man was chasing and shooting at the woman around a home construction site on Sailmaker Lane. Deputies said they shot the man after he ignored several orders to drop the gun he carried. Residents told WKRG News 5 they heard more than 12 gunshots during the incident.
Aden said the man was holding his estranged wife hostage outside the home when deputies arrived. When deputies confronted the man, he ran inside the construction site and the woman was able to get away.
“At that point, there was separation between he and the female, at which time we heard a gunshot, which clearly we believe was being intended for either our deputies or the victim,” said Aden.
Aden said the suspect came out the back of the house and towards the victim again, shooting at her and innocent bystanders. Deputies returned fire, fatally shooting the man multiple times.
Aden gave credit to the responding deputies for how they handled the scene, both with little field experience.
“What needs to be noted is the training that these individuals take was paramount in the safety of those citizens, that they were there to protect as well as serve. They had poise, composure like I’ve never seen. Like a 20-year veteran, and one of these individuals was out of field training for one day. The other one has only been on our agency for about a year and a half,” said Aden.
Both deputies have been placed on administrative leave with pay. State and local administrations will investigate the shooting further. The sheriff said no one else was hurt in the incident.
“First and foremost, I would be remiss if I didn’t say this. Our deputies are safe, our citizens are safe,” said Aden.
What we know about the suspect:
Aden said they believe the man is a 45-year-old man from Honduras. The Sheriff’s Office said they are waiting to confirm his identity with federal agencies before releasing a name.
“I know that all records are indicating that this individual is an undocumented alien that was here. He’s already been deported once in 2012 based on his criminal history,” said Aden. “My big question is, how does someone like that get a gun? How does someone like that be able to have a gun to do a violent act like that? And why is the person even here?”
Aden believes the man has been around Okaloosa County for 20 years.
“So he’s been arrested for no driver’s license in the past, in 2021. Like I said, he’s been deported before, but we’re working with the federal agencies to try to confirm his identity for sure,” said Aden.