Man shot by Highlands deputies after pointing cell phone at them, officials say

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SEBRING, Fla. (WFLA) – A man who called 911 and threatened to shoot people in Sebring was himself wounded in a shooting after pointing a cell phone at deputies, authorities said.

Julio Garcia, 46, had called 911 at 12:55 a.m. and told the dispatcher he had battered his girlfriend at a home on Jacklin Avenue, and was heading to a nearby Circle K to start shooting people, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies responded to the convenience store minutes later and located Garcia. A witness told them he had a firearm.

Deputies said Garcia refused verbal commands and pointed what appeared to be a firearm, but was actually a cell phone at them.

Both deputies opened fire, hitting Garcia in the upper body. He was given First Aid, then taken to an area hospital in stable condition.

“It should be noted no firearm was located. At this point, it appears Garcia was holding and pointing his cell phone at the deputies as if it was a firearm,” a sheriff’s office spokesman said.

The deputies were placed on administrative leave, which is standard protocol for officer-involved shootings.

Deputies said Garcia has a lengthy criminal record and was previously Baker Acted following a suicide by cop attempt.

He faces a number of charges in connection with Friday’s incident and will be taken into protective custody once he’s released from the hospital.

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