A 21-year-old Florida sheriff’s deputy who died Tuesday while serving an arrest warrant was killed by friendly fire after a suspect pulled out a realistic-looking BB gun and pointed it at officers, authorities said.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd described Deputy Sheriff Blane Lane as “eager” and someone “brilliant” who “absorbed information like a sponge.” He leaves behind a 3-year-old child.
“All this breaks our heart,” Judd told reporters. “This was his dream, to be a law enforcement officer. I just swore him in just a few months ago.”
Lane was one of several deputies who responded to a mobile home in Polk City around 3:08 a.m. after receiving a tip regarding the whereabouts of Cheryl Lynn Williams.
Williams was wanted after failing to appear in court for a possession of methamphetamine charge. Her criminal history includes a nine-year stint in prison for trafficking in methamphetamine, in addition to 11 felony and four misdemeanor arrests.
Lane and three other deputies – Sgt. Michael Brooks, and Deputies Johnny Holsonback III and Adam Pennell – arrived at the home where one witness said Williams was near a back door. Another witness near the backdoor told authorities “she’s in here” and Lane stood behind to take up a tactical position, the sheriff’s office said.
The other deputies approached a “gaming room” and didn’t see anyone inside. Williams then stepped into view with what appeared to be a silver handgun and pointed it at them. The deputies opened fire and Williams was hit at least twice, Judd said.
The weapon turned out to be a BB gun, authorities said.
One of the bullets fired by the other deputies struck Lane in the arm, which then entered his chest. He was taken to the Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center where he died. The round that struck him came from Brooks and Holsonback, who both opened fire, Judd said.
After the shooting, the second witness told investigators that Williams picked up the BB gun when she realized deputies were in the home. The witness told her “You don’t want to do that,” and she replied, “Let them in,” authorities said.
“She clearly and unequivocally wanted to put us into a gun fight with her and or a suicide-by-cop,” Judd said.
Investigators believe at least six shots were fired.
Williams was listed in stable condition and is expected to be charged with second-degree murder and more crimes once she’s released from the hospital.
Lane lived in Fort Meade and became a deputy sheriff in January. The sheriff’s office will hold a line-of-duty death funeral for him with full honors.