Brandon, Florida -- Sheriff David Gee says a man burned his clothes, stabbed a cat, and charged with a butcher knife, forcing deputies to shoot him.
Three deputies shot and killed Lew G. Tyree II at around 5:45 Tuesday morning after the bizarre and scary encounter in the Bloomingdale area.
Neighbors in the Bloomingdale Villas neighborhood off Bloomingdale Avenue tell 10 News the 41-year-old man may have had mental health issues.
Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee says Tyree set a pile of his clothes on fire near his duplex in the neighborhood.
Then, at around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, 911 calls from panicked neighbors started coming in.
Tyree, who everybody has seen around the neighborhood before, was out roaming the street in the dark with a butcher knife.
"Then he went over to the neighbor's house. He stabbed a cat, which we have not located yet," Gee said.
The cat ran off; deputies aren't sure how seriously it was hurt.
"Then he started smashing the windows out of an apartment where someone was occupying it," Gee said.
Gee said as his deputies showed up, Tyree came toward them in the street, still holding that large knife.
"He was extremely aggressive with the deputies. They attempted to taser him. That was apparently ineffective," Gee said.
Deputies are allowed to use deadly force if someone carrying a knife is less than 21 feet away from them, Gee said. In this case, deputies waited longer.
But as Tyree closed to within ten or twelve feet of them, Gee said the three deputies all opened fire.
"They looked like they were in a position where they really had no choice," Gee said.
Tyree was taken to the hospital, but did not survive. All of the deputies are okay.
Several neighbors told 10 News Tyree was quiet and friendly, but seemed to be living with mental health issues.
"It's possible that he might have had some kind of something going on, 'cause he seemed a little 'off' at times. You know, like, not all there," neighbor Raymond Rivera said.
Gee said from his early review of the facts, it appears the three deputies did everything they reasonably could to try to end the situation without violence.
One of the deputies who opened fire is a Crisis Intervention deputy, trained to calm down delicate situations and handle people with mental illnesses and other issues.
Gee said when a deputy with training like that feels his only choice is to shoot, then it's a clear sign that deadly force was justified for the deputies trying to protect themselves.
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