HCSO deputy shot, critically injured

LAKE PLACID — Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Deputy William Gentry was shot and fatally wounded Sunday, May 6 in Lake Placid. Deputy Gentry succumbed to the injuries he sustained at 1:13 p.m. on Monday, May 7.

Deputy Gentry was responding to a neighbor dispute involving a cat that allegedly had been shot. After speaking with the complainant, Deputy Gentry went to 234 Baltimore Way to speak to the neighbor who was suspected of shooting the cat. Deputy Gentry made contact with 69-year-old Joseph Edward Ables at his front door. At that point, approximately 7:56 p.m., Ables shot Deputy Gentry.

Deputy Gentry was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital and remains in critical condition at this time.

“William is an experienced law enforcement officer and serves as one of our Field Training Deputies,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said. “His brother is one of our detectives. This is an unimaginable tragedy for our agency. Our prayers are with Deputy Gentry and his family and we ask that your prayers be with them, also.”

Ables, who is a convicted felon with a history of violence towards law enforcement, was arrested at the scene and taken to the Highlands County Jail.

Deputy Gentry, 40, has nine years and four months of service with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.

“I have spoken with (Sheriff) Blackman on the deputy shot tonight and offered all state resources,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement on Twitter. “Hurting a LEO is pure evil and we won’t stand for it. I ask all Floridians to pray for the family, the HCSO and all the brave LEOs who go above and beyond every day to keep us safe.”

The investigation continues at the scene of the shooting. Anyone who has any information that may be useful to the investigation, please email detectives@highlandssheriff.org or call 863-402-7250.

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