Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis provided an update on the January 29th deputy-involved shooting of two persons at a press conference held on February 10th.
According to Nienhuis, the Sheriff’s office received a 911 call a few minutes before 8 PM on Sunday, January 29th, from a third party saying that a domestic dispute may be occurring at a residence on Cobb Road near Brooksville. The dispute was reported to involve suspect Tracy Allen Lemaster and a female victim.
About three to four minutes later, a 911 dispatcher received a call from the victim, who was very difficult to understand. The victim was “hysterical, hyperventilating, and there was some alcohol involved,” Nienhuis said. After talking to the victim for one to two minutes, the dispatcher was able to determine that there was some type of verbal or physical disturbance going on, and a call for service was generated at about that same time. The victim went on to state that she was holding Lemaster down, and Lemaster had a gun in his hand. The call was then disconnected. Knowing that there was a gun involved, deputies responded with lights and sirens, arriving within “four or five minutes of the call,” Nienhuis said.
At about 8 PM, just as deputies arrived, the victim made a second call to 911 and stated that Lemaster had possession of the gun. As dispatchers listened, they could hear the victim pleading with Lemaster to give the gun to her. Deputies were heard in the background repeatedly instructing Lemaster to drop the gun. Lemaster refused to comply and was heard to respond, “Shoot me! Just shoot me!” at least five times, according to Nienhuis.
Within one minute, a third HCSO unit arrived on the scene. The dashcam video from that vehicle provided a wide-angle view of the incident. In the video, Lemaster is observed on top of the victim, pinning her to the ground.
Nienhuis stated that in the video, Lemaster appears to point his weapon at deputies. Nienhuis commented, “When the gun was pointed in their direction (deputies), they really had no other choice than to meet that force with force.” The deputies fired several rounds at Lemaster, striking him as well as accidentally striking the victim, who was still pinned by Lemaster. Deputies immediately moved in and rendered potentially lifesaving first aid to both Lemaster and the victim. Both survived and were hospitalized. The victim has since been released from the hospital. Lemaster remained hospitalized at the time of the conference but was expected to be released from the hospital within a few days. Neinhuis stated that when Lemaster was released from the hospital, he would be brought to the Hernando County jail and charged with domestic violence, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and several other charges.
The shooting is still being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in conjunction with the State Attorney’s Office. As is customary, the two deputies involved were placed on administrative leave immediately following the shooting. Both were returned to duty recently following the initial assessment of the incident.
Nienhuis added, “The deputies were put in a no-win situation, as they often are.” He also noted he was very proud of the bravery shown by the deputies, as well as how quickly they transitioned from having to use deadly force to rendering lifesaving first aid.