CrimeLocal

Highlands County deputy sent to Lee Memorial for treatment dies Monday

Deputy shot after responding to a call about a man shooting a cat, police say

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William Gentry, a Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputy who was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital on Sunday evening, has died Monday afternoon from complications of a gunshot wound suffered in the line of duty.

Gentry was responding to a call in Lake Placid about a man shooting a cat, HCSO said. He was allegedly shot at the scene by Joseph Edward Able, 69, and airlifted to Lee Memorial with a gunshot wound to the head, where he died shortly after 1 p.m. Monday. Gentry was 40 years old and had been a Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputy for nine years.

“This is an unimaginable tragedy for our agency,” Highlands Sheriff Paul Blackman said.

Since the news of Gentry’s shooting was known, and especially since his passing, law enforcement agencies and officials around the state has been sending messages of support.

“Our prayers and condolences go out to the family of Deputy William J. Gentry Jr., along with our brothers and sisters with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, as he passed away today as a result of his injuries,” the Lee County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook post Monday afternoon.

On Monday morning, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office gave similar words as Gentry was in a Fort Myers hospital.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters at the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office this morning,” CCSO said.

The Florida Sheriffs Association released this statement on Monday:

“We stand with Deputy Gentry, his family, his friends, and with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office during this tragic time. We are heartbroken at this reminder that law enforcement put their lives on the line every moment they are on duty for their fellow citizens. This attack is a terrible demonstration that evil lurks, and that life is meaningless to some. The Sheriffs of Florida have offered our resources to all first responders who are diligently and respectfully working on this tragedy in Highlands County, and who are investigating and bringing justice for our deputy and his family.”

Ables was already being held without bond on charges of attempted first degree murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. It is expected that more charges will come.

Ables(Highlands County Sheriff’s Office)

EARLIER REPORT

A Highlands County deputy remains in critical condition at Lee Memorial hospital where he was airlifted after being shot in the line of duty Sunday evening.

According to details given by Highland County Sheriff Paul Blackman during a press conference, Deputy William Gentry responded to reports of a cat being shot near a residence in Lake Placid on Sunday around 7:45 p.m. While interviewing Joseph Edward Ables, 69, the man who allegedly shot the cat, Gentry was himself allegedly shot by Ables. Gentry was taken to the airport and immediately airlifted to Lee Memorial for treatment with injuries to the head and an unknown number of gunshot wounds.

“We are asking our community hear in highlands county as well as Lake placid to please pray for Deputy Gentry, and hope that he will see his way through this,” said Blackman.

Law enforcement agencies from around Southwest Florida offered their support for the critically injured deputy on social media.

“Our thoughts and prayers our with our brothers and sisters at the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office this morning,” said the Collier County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook.

Blackman said that Ables had a criminal history including battery against law enforcement officers.

According to an update released Monday morning, Gentry remains in critical condition at Lee Memorial. Able has been charged with attempted first degree murder without premeditation,
possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, resisting an officer with violence, tampering with evidence, and violation of probation.


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