Orange County, FL Deputy Shot, Killed While Responding to Car Burglary on February 10, 2014

The 34-year-old deputy, whose name has not been released, was a father of three small children.

An upscale community in the Dr. Phillips area turned into a crime scene overnight after an Orange County Deputy was shot and killed during a vehicle-burglary investigation.

Orange deputy killed during burglary call

Authorities found the gunman dead near the scene from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the sheriff’s office. There is no “evidence of [an] exchange of gunfire by deputies,” according to Deputy Ginette Rodriguez, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman.

A second suspect — a woman — is being questioned by detectives in connection with the burglary.

The 34-year-old deputy, whose name was not released, was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

“The citizens of Orange County lost a true hero who was tragically killed patrolling the streets of our community,” Sheriff Jerry Demings said in a statement. “I ask the community for their prayers for our fallen deputy’s family which includes a wife and three small children. Thank you for your continued support as we go through these trying times together.”

The deputy has been with the Sheriff’s Office since January 2011. He is a husband and father of three young children.

Demings was out of town when the shooting happened and he is returning to Orange County right now.

Authorities remain at the gated Westminster Landing subdivision, which has been closed to the public as the investigation continues.

Leading up to the fatal shooting, deputies received a call around 11 p.m. Monday about car burglaries in the Apopka-Vineland and Conroy-Windermere road.

“When we [got] there, a vehicle took off and one subject took off running,” Undersheriff Rey Rivero told reporters at a news briefing this morning.

After searching for the suspect for about an hour, deputies found the burglar around midnight in the Longmoore Court and Westminster Abbey Boulevard area, Rivero said.

The Deputy made contact with the suspect, but soon the suspect took off running, Rivero said.

Several shots were fired. The deputy was hit by at least one bullet.

“We are not going to release the name because we still have to notify the next of kin who live out of state,” Rivero said.

Neighbor George Mitchell said he was awakened from a deep sleep about 12:15 a.m. by what he thought was the sound of helicopters overhead. His wife said she heard popping sounds.

There were about 10 sheriff’s deputy vehicles parked near and around his home in the 7800 block of Westminster Abbey Boulevard where authorities had been searching for the vehicle burglary suspect.

The Sheriff’s Office posted a message on its Facebook 15 hours ago warning local residents about a recent spike in burglaries — 25 in 30 days — for residents along the Apopka Vineland Corridor between Sand Lake and Old Winter Garden Road.

Mitchell’s Westminster Landing was not included in the list of areas recently targeted by burglars. He said he knows of at least one vehicle burglary in the neighborhood recently but most of them have occurred in a neighboring subdivision.

“It’s very sad and quite frankly, I’m flabbergasted,” Mitchell said at learning of the deputy’s death. “This is unbelievable.”

This marks the first Orange County deputy sheriff fatally shot in the line of duty since 2010.

Officer Brandon Coates, a member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Anti-Crime Squad, died Dec. 8, 2010.

Deputies said Brandon Lyals shot Coates twice in the head after the deputy had pulled over Lyals’ pickup near Nashville Avenue and 45th Street.

Lyals, 29, then shot and killed himself

Brandon Coates, 27, served in the Marines for six years as an administrative clerk and combat driver before joining the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

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