POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Three people have been charged in connection with the shooting death of 21-year-old Polk County Deputy Blane Lane, who tragically died as a result of friendly fire while serving an arrest warrant in unincorporated Polk City Tuesday morning.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, 46-year-old Cheryl Lynn Williams was charged with 13 felonies in the death of Deputy Lane. Deputies said Williams, who was to be served the arrest warrant, jumped out at deputies armed with a silver handgun that turned out to be a “very realistic-looking BB gun.”
Deputies opened fire at Williams, simultaneously striking Deputy Lane who had taken a tactical position opposite the deputies, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Judd said Lane was shot in his arm and the round entered his chest. Lane was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.
Williams was also transported to a local hospital to be treated for multiple gunshot wounds. She is in stable condition, as of Wednesday evening, according to the sheriff’s office.
Deputies said while searching the home Williams shared with two others, they found several firearms openly displayed on a gun rack attached to the wall in the hallway. The guns found, according to the sheriff’s office, were a Marlin model 99M1 .22 caliber rifle with a scope that had one live round in the chamber and seven rounds in the magazine tube, a Connecticut Valley Arms, Inc. single-shot 12 gauge shotgun, and a bolt-action 410 gauge shotgun with one live round in the chamber.
Williams was charged with second-degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, three counts of resisting arrest, two counts of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and one count of possession of methamphetamine.
“When deputies arrived at this residence following up on a Crime Stoppers tip that Cheryl Williams was there with an active warrant, they gave her every opportunity to turn herself in,” Judd said. “She made the choice to hide, and then to jump out while pointing a gun at them.”
Judd said had Williams cooperated, a different outcome may have unfolded.
“Cheryl Williams would have been taken into custody peacefully, and would solely be facing her original failure to appear charge,” he said. “Now she is responsible for the death of Deputy Lane, a young man who had his entire life ahead of him, eager to serve the people of Polk County while making a positive difference as a law enforcement officer.”
Authorities also arrested two other convicted felons living at the home, identified by deputies as Donald Mathis and Joseph Larry Albritton Jr., and charged them with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon among other charges.
“Everyone in that house is a convicted felon with a criminal history,” Judd said, “but all they had to do was cooperate, and this tragedy would never have occurred.”
The sheriff’s office will plan a line-of-duty death funeral with full law enforcement honors. That information will be released at a later date.