Woman accused of discharging firearm in church parking lot

OKEECHOBEE — While investigating a vehicle in connection with a reckless driving complaint, a sergeant with the Okeechobee Police Department heard what seemed to be a gunshot. Sgt. Aurelio Almazan noticed a silver Toyota parked in the lot of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 10:15 a.m. Saturday, April 11, and noted it matched the description of a vehicle reported earlier for driving at a high rate of speed, forward and backward.

Payton Byrd

When he pulled in to investigate, he heard what sounded like a gunshot and, in fear he was being shot at, he remained in his vehicle. The Toyota quickly exited the parking lot and turned onto Southwest Sixth Street. When the car was gone, Sgt. Almazan noticed a purse laying on the ground where the car had been. He contacted dispatch for backup and followed the car with lights and siren on, and they finally came to a stop in the 900 block of Southwest Sixth Street.

Not knowing whether the occupants of the vehicle were armed, he drew his own weapon and told the driver to exit the vehicle. The driver was identified by her driver’s license as Payton Byrd, 22, Southwest 28th Avenue.

A live 9mm round was reportedly found in Byrd’s purse, and when Sgt. Almazan asked if there was a gun in the car, the passenger said Byrd usually carries one. He also verified that Byrd was driving erratically. A search of the car reportedly uncovered a black Glock 43 9mm under the driver’s side floor mat next to a spent casing.

Byrd was arrested and charged with discharge of a firearm in public, unlicensed carrying of a concealed firearm and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill. Her bond was set at $13,250.

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