LEESBURG, Fla. (CN) – A Lake County Sheriff’s deputy or deputies shot a man to death in his own doorway Sunday in an incident that shocked neighbors of the dead man, who was not the man police were looking for.
Twenty-six-year-old Andrew Lee Scott was shot to death after deputies knocked on his door at the Blueberry Hill apartment complex at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
The Sheriff’s Office said Scott answered the door holding a gun.
The Sheriff’s Office said at first that the deputies had announced themselves as law enforcement before or while knocking, but retracted that statement and called it a “minor detail” that the deputies “didn’t announce and identify themselves,” according to WFTV.com, an ABC station.
Sheriff’s deputies said they were looking for “an attempted murder suspect,” who eventually was found in a building next door.
According to police reports, the tragedy began with reports of a beating in Leesburg, a town of 23,000 northwest of Orlando, in the center of the state.
Emergency calls to Leesburg Police stated that two men, later identified as Anthony Rodriguez, 25, of Clermont, and Jonathan Brown, 31, of Leesburg, were beating a man, identified as Justin Jackson, 24.
A police report statesJackson had slapped his girlfriend in an argument about her and her former boyfriend, Rodriguez.
Rodriguez and Brown went to a home on Marietta Street and allegedly beat Jackson. According to two police reports, Rodriguez was beating Jackson when Brown raised a cinder block, as if to strike Jackson. Witnesses called to Jackson and asked if they should call police. Brown tossed away the cinder block and he and Rodriguez fled in separate vehicles, according to police reports.
Rodriguez was subsequently pulled over and arrested for felony battery by Leesburg Police Department, according to a third police report.
Deputies found a motorcycle belonging to Brown in front of apartment No. 114 and knocked on the door. A Lake County Sheriff’s spokesman said Scott opened the door holding a gun, pointed it at deputies, and they shot him to death.
After the Sheriff’s Office retracted its statement that the deputies had identified themselves, sheriff’s spokesman Lt. John Herrell told several media outlets that the deputies did not do so because it gave them a tactical advantage.
Brown, a former Groveland Police Officer, was arrested several hours later at apartment No. 124 in the next building, according to local news reports.
Neighbors were in shock Tuesday over Scott’s death.
LeMac Blount, who worked with Scott at two restaurants and knew him for nearly 6 years, called him a “happy go-lucky” guy who always had a smile on his face.
Blount said he was surprised Scott that had a gun, and does not think the incident happened the way deputies said it did.
“I don’t think he pointed the gun,” Blount said.
Blount said he saw Brown come home that night and that his actions struck him as odd. “Jonathan came through the trees, on grass, on his motorcycle and he made a mad dash into his apartment,” Blount said. Blount he heard sirens then, but they passed by the complex. They returned about 15 minutes later and that’s when Scott was killed.
“I heard four shots back to back and we saw them escorting Andrew’s girlfriend. She was crying hysterically,” he said.
Evidence markers seen by Courthouse News Service on Sunday suggest that more than four shots may have been fired.
Blount said there did not seem to be any urgency to get Scott medical help.
“We kept waiting for them to bring him out, but they never did,” he said.
Blount said the tragedy could have been avoided if deputies had contacted the apartment manager.
“The deputies ride through here all the time. They know (the manager), they should have called her,” he said.
On Tuesday, red carnations and a Hungry Howie’s baseball cap, where Scott worked as a pizza delivery driver, adorned the doorstep of apartment No. 114.
Scott’s family and friends plan to protest outside the Sheriff’s Office in Tavares on Thursday.
Late Monday, the Orlando-based Florida Civil Rights Association said it will conduct a police misconduct investigation.
Spokesman Kyan Ware said the investigation will entail three parts, starting with letting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (which investigates all law enforcement-related shootings) conclude its investigation, then making public records requests and then interviewing family, friends and witnesses.
“The circumstances speak for themselves,” Ware said. “They made a terrible lapse in judgment.”