POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Polk County deputies arrested a Lake Wales city commissioner Thursday for allegedly removing an 11-year-old boy from his home without permission and threatening him with a gun.
Deputies say 41-year-old Kristen Fitzgerald is being charged with one count of interference with child custody and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
An arrest report says the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake Wales Police Department were called just before 11 p.m. Wednesday for “an armed disturbance” off of Lyon Street. When law enforcement arrived, they learned Fitzgerald took the boy away from his home without the permission of his parents and threatened to kill him.
Deputies say she held a loaded gun and showed it to the boy after making the threats to him.
According to the arrest report, the boy’s mom told deputies Fitzgerald picked the boy up and took him to the Struther’s Honey and accused the boy of touching her 13-year-old daughter in a sexual manner. When the boy denied her allegations, deputies say Fitzgerald threatened him with a gun.
The sheriff’s office says Fitzgerald admitted to picking the boy up, taking him to Struther’s Honey, and confronting him but denied threatening to hurt him.
Fitzgerald told law enforcement she does keep a gun in her car, however, said it stays in a case under the driver’s seat. She also told deputies that while she didn’t pull out the gun, it did slide out from under the seat and pushed it back with her foot while the boy was in the car, according to the arrest affidavit.
Deputies say they found her gun in a brown bag on the driver’s floorboard. The gun was loaded, however, there was not a round chambered when it was removed by deputies.
According to the affidavit, the boy told law enforcement Fitzgerald called and told him to come outside and when he went outside, she told him to get in her car. The boy said he thought she was going to give him money or a gift for finishing his school year. Deputies say she drove to Struther’s Honey, where she confronted him about the sexual allegations made by her 13-year-old back in 2020.
The boy told deputies Fitzgerald threatened to kill him “if he ever communicated or touched” the teen again.
The affidavit says as Fitzgerald began to drive the boy back home, she reached under the driver’s seat and removed a bag that held a purple handgun. According to the boy, she showed him the gun while it was in the case and said “you see this, I will bury you” alive.
Deputies say the boy thought she was intoxicated because he could smell alcohol on her breath, was afraid of her, and never wanted to see her again.
The boy’s mother also told law enforcement her son was “scared for his life” and thought Fitzgerald was going to kill him. She said Fitzgerald has taken her son to places in the past, but never without telling her or advising what they would be doing.
In the affidavit, deputies mention Fitzgerald later admitted to telling the boy “I will bury you” but not saying she’d bury him alive.
During an interview with Fitzgerald, deputies say she learned from her daughter of the sexual contact allegations involving her daughter and the boy. She said “she was heartbroken” and called to talk to the boy, which is when the incident happened.
“We don’t expect this kind of behavior from anyone, but especially someone in public office. She should be held to a higher standard and should be setting the proper example – instead, she displayed what not to do as a human being. Her conduct, threatening a child with a gun, is horrendous,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
8 On Your Side reached out to Lake Wales Mayor Eugene Fultz regarding the situation. He said the city commission will be discussing the implications of her arrest at the next commission meeting, which takes place June 15.
Fitzgerald started her term on May 4.