Sheriff says Okeechobee man shot and killed wife; Several investigations underway

SCHWENDENMANN, DAVID

DAVID SCHWENDENMANN

OKEECHOBEE — A man suspected of killing his 48-year-old wife was taken to a Fort Pierce hospital after he was shot by two Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) deputies.

Those deputies — Yero Todman and Jose Garduno — have been placed on administrative leave with pay.
David Anthony Schwendenmann, 50, remains under guard at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center even though he has not yet been charged.

On Tuesday, Aug. 2, he was listed in stable condition.

OCSO deputies were called to a home at the end of the cul-de-sac on S.E. 58th Drive at 5:05 p.m. Friday, July 29. It was in that home where they found the body of Angela Ayers Schwendenmann.

She had apparently suffered a fatal blast from a shotgun.

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“The suspect had left the scene of the shooting and was believed to be armed,” said Sheriff Paul May at a Monday afternoon, Aug. 1, press conference. “Our deputies made contact with the vehicle on U.S. 441 S.E. and at this point each deputy fired multiple rounds at the suspect — striking him and the vehicle.”

Sheriff May pointed out that at least 20 OCSO deputies were actively searching the southeast section of the county for Schwendenmann, but deputies Todman and Garduno were the only deputies in the immediate area when the man was found.

By using a stop stick, the deputies stopped the man on the two-lane highway and in an unknown amount of time opened fire on him.

OCSO Major Noel Stephen said it’s not yet known is Schwendenmann said anything to the deputies.

When the deputies encountered Schwendenmann they not only knew he was armed, but that he had allegedly killed his wife.

“I don’t know how more justified a person can be when dealing with a man who’s just killed his wife,” said Sheriff May of the officer-involved shooting.

While investigators try to determine a motive for the alleged killing, Sheriff May did confirm deputies have been called to the couple’s residence before.

The sheriff also confirmed Schwendenmann was carrying multiple firearms in his vehicle as well as “lots of ammunition.”

This was also not Schwendenmann’s first encounter with OCSO deputies. On Sept. 11, 2014, he was arrested after threatening to kill a different woman because she refused to take him to a liquor store, stated an arrest report by OCSO Deputy Richard Varnadore. The female victim in this case reportedly would not take him to buy more liquor because he “… was wasted drunk.” At that point Schwendenmann reportedly became angry and threatened the woman.

“I’ve got something for your ass. I’m going to kill you!” he said, with the Ithaca 12-gauge shotgun in hand.

The woman immediately left because she feared for her life.

Schwendenmann was later arrested by Deputy Varnadore and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, improper exhibition of a firearm and use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.

He was never convicted of those charges, said assistant state attorney Ashley Albright.

“She (the victim) refused to show up for two state attorney hearings and would not cooperate. So, we couldn’t file the charges,” he said.

Records indicate this is the second officer-involved shooting incident while Sheriff May has been in office. In only one of those shootings was a suspect injured.

The first of those incidents took place in August of 2010 when the OCSO Special Response Team (SRT) went to a home on S.W. 18th Terrace to help the Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force serve a search warrant.

Then-Deputy Corporal Paul Ferrell was the point man for the SRT unit and was the first one to enter the home. When he opened a closed door located off the kitchen a man armed with a firearm was waiting.

That man pointed his 9mm handgun at the deputy. Cpl. Ferrell fired four rounds at the man, but none of those rounds found their mark. Thinking he was going to be shot, the corporal fired his weapon as he was ducking.

In 2005 Cpl. Ferrell was involved in another shooting, when he twice shot Dennis Keith Rock as the man was approaching the deputy with a rifle and would not put it down. Rock was shot in the leg and hip.

Sheriff May said he was proud neither Deputy Todman, 41, nor Deputy Garduno, 31, were injured.

He also alluded to a December 2014 incident when Deputy Todman encountered an armed 18-year-old man in a Wright’s Plaza store.

As the deputy blocked the store’s door, the 210-pound man charged at Deputy Todman with his right hand in the waistband of his pants. When the man reached the doorway he shoved the deputy out of the way.

But instead of reaching for his sidearm, Deputy Todman pulled out his taser and shot the man in the upper back. As the man fell to the ground a silver .380 caliber handgun also fell to the ground.

“I told him (Deputy Todman) I’d back him to the hilt then, and I’ll back him again today,” said the sheriff emphatically.

During his six years with the sheriff’s office, Deputy Todman has received a number of certifications and awards. He was also named the law enforcement officer of the quarter and the officer of the year in 2015.

Deputy Garduno has been with the sheriff’s office since 2012 and, like Deputy Todman, is a member of the agency’s SRT unit. He, too, has received a number of certifications and awards. He is a field training officer, a physical fitness training instructor and has also been nominated for the law enforcement officer of the quarter.

Maj. Stephen said the county will pay for Schwendenmann’s hospital stay and treatment.

“Ninety-eight percent of the time a suspect is hospitalized they aren’t arrested until they are released so the county won’t have to pay the hospital bill. But this case is a little different. Because we inflicted the injuries, we are covering the cost,” he explained.

Multiple OCSO investigators have also been assigned to cover every aspect of this case. Detective Corporal Rosemary Farless is the lead investigator on the homicide, while Detective Lieutenant Brad Stark is handling the officer’s shooting of Schwendenmann. OCSO Special Investigator Dale LaFlam has been assigned to carry out the internal affairs probe.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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