BRADFORD COUNTY — A man with apparent 'mental issues' was shot and killed Sunday after the Bradford County Sheriff's Office says he started firing at deputies.
The fatal deputy-involved shooting happened after two deputies arrived at the 6000 block of Northwest 216th Street in Lawtey and approached a man, now identified as Anthony Hodges, 39, who was described as having possible mental health issues.
"We've had several calls in the past in reference to this individual," said Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith. "We know he has sought mental counseling before and takes medication."
Sheriff Smith says this started as a domestic disturbance call. Hodges was off his medication, according to BCSO Major Brad Smith. Deputies say he was armed with a rifle.
BSCO told First Coast News Hodges appeared to be on his phone when walked out of his shed. Family members of the subject told deputies he was armed and briefly spoke to him. Hodges began shooting at deputies with what BSCO said was a "semiautomatic-styled" rifle.
Deputies sought cover from behind their vehicles and a parked school bus. Deputies returned fire, Hodges was struck and deputies immediately began administering first-aid.
"Trying to do what they were trained for," said Smith. "Trying to save a young man's life."
Neighbors like Cindy and Bobby Norberg say this small town has never experienced an incident like this.
“We’re going to pray, but I know it’s a sad day for him, for the family and so forth. It’s devastating to know that someone in our area, we live right down the street and we know everybody, it’s just hard,” Bobby Norberg said.
Sheriff Smith says he's dealt with Hodges since he was a teenager. After deputies returned fire, they administered first aid.
“I know the family well, I interact with them on a regular occasion, and the first words they said to me was they were grateful for the efforts of the deputies involved. It was overwhelming to them to see them work hard to save the man’s life,” Sheriff Smith said.
Hodges was taken to the Shands hospital in Starke where he was pronounced dead, according to Sheriff Smith.
The Bradford County Sheriff's Office posted a photo of the gun that Hodges used in the police-involved shooting. Sgt. Russell Gordon and Deputy Justin Hanson with BCSO have been placed on administrative leave.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement has been asked to investigate. Both officers had body-cams and both patrol cars had dash-cams, according to BCSO, but one camera was knocked off of a deputy when he sought cover during the shooting.
"But we'll still have other videos prior to and during the actual incident that took place," said Smith.