BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — Hernando County deputies shot both a domestic violence suspect and his alleged victim while responding to a call in Brooksville on Jan. 29.
In a news conference on Friday, Sheriff Al Nienhuis said deputies were called to a home on Cobb Road just before 8:00 p.m. for a report of a domestic disturbance.
Nienhuis said the first call came from an uninvolved person who reported the disturbance. The second caller was the alleged domestic violence victim.
The sheriff praised 911 dispatchers for parsing the jumbled 911 call. The victim seemed intoxicated and “hysterical,” Neinhuis said.
“The victim was trying to tell us what was going on, but she was hyperventilating, hysterical,” Nienhuis said. “And like I said, there was some alcohol involved.”
The alleged victim told 911 operators that she was holding down the suspect, 60-year-old Tracy Allen Lemaster. She said Lemaster was also intoxicated before the call was disconnected.
Nienhuis said deputies arrived about five minutes later to find Lemaster holding the victim down. Newly-released dashboard camera video showed two people involved in a struggle in the yard, but with a combination of distance and low lighting, it’s difficult to make out any details.
While deputies were driving to the scene, the sheriff’s office received another 911 call from the victim stating Lemaster was armed with a gun. Nienhuis said the victim could be heard pleading for him to give her the gun in the audio recording.
Lemaster repeatedly taunted deputies to “just shoot” him, Neinhuis said.
Despite deputies ordering him to drop the weapon, the sheriff’s office dashboard camera video showed Lemaster raising an object in the air, which Neinhuis said was a handgun.
“It’s out in a fairly remote area of the county and is very dark, other than the headlights from the cruisers,” Neinhuis explained. “But it does appear he points the weapon at one of the deputies.”
The sheriff added what his deputies could not have known at the time is that the gun was jammed and could not be fired.
In response, deputies fired approximately 14 shots, according to an audio recording of the incident released by the sheriff’s office. Both Lemaster and the victim were struck, but survived their injuries.
“When you see the video, I think you’re going to realize deputies were put in a no-win situation, as they often are,” Neinhuis said.
The victim was released from the hospital. Lemaster is still in the hospital, but when he is released the sheriff says he will be taken to jail and charged with domestic violence and aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer.
The Sheriff said his deputies did the right thing in a very difficult situation.
“They really had no other choice but to meet that force with force,” Nienhuis said.
No deputies were hurt during the incident. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the use of force.