Florida deputy shot while responding to dispute about cat

LAKE PLACID, Fla. (AP) — A Florida sheriff’s deputy was shot in the head while responding to a dispute over a cat, authorities said.

In a Facebook post late Sunday, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office said Deputy William Gentry was critically wounded while responding to a dispute between neighbors over a cat that had been shot.

Sheriff Paul Blackman told reporters that after speaking with the cat’s owner, Gentry approached the man suspected of shooting the cat, 69-year-old Joseph Edward Ables, at his Lake Placid front door. Blackman said Ables then shot Gentry in the head shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday.

The 40-year-old deputy was airlifted to a hospital. The sheriff’s office tweeted early Monday that Gentry remained hospitalized in critical condition.

Ables was arrested at the scene. Gentry had a deputy-in-training with him when he responded to the call, and neither man exchanged gunfire with Ables, Blackman said.

Ables was held without bond on charges that include attempted first-degree murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Jail records did not show whether he had an attorney.

The sheriff’s office statement said Ables was a convicted felon with a history of violence toward law enforcement.

Gentry is a field training officer and has served for over nine years with the sheriff’s office, where his brother is a detective, Blackman said.

“This is an unimaginable tragedy for our agency,” Blackman said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted late Sunday that he had offered “all state resources” to Blackman. “Hurting a (law enforcement officer) is pure evil (and) we won’t stand for it,” Scott wrote.

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