Florida sheriff's deputies searching for a pair of assault suspects shot and killed the wrong man in Leesburg early Sunday morning.
Lake County Sheriff's deputies were responding to an assistance call from Leesburg police after midnight on Sunday. Officers were searching for suspects involved in the brutal beating of a third man.
The Orlando Sentinelreports that a deputy saw one of the suspects riding away on a motorcycle. Deputies later located that motorcycle outside an apartment complex and knocked on the door of the nearest unit around 1:30 a.m.
But the deputies did not identify themselves as police officers. Lt. John Herrell, a spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff's Department, said that the deputies, who have the discretion to announce themselves as law enforcement officers, believed it would be "tactically advantageous" not to identify themselves.
The apartment's resident, 26-year-old Andrew Lee Scott, answered his door armed with a gun and was shot dead by the deputies.
"When we knocked on the door, the door opened and the occupant was pointing a gun at deputies and that's when we opened fire and killed him," Lt. Herrell told WTLV.
Drugs and drug paraphernalia were found in Scott's unit, and the dead man has a history of drug-related arrests. But he had nothing to do with the manhunt that cost him his life.
The suspect wanted by police for the assault that triggered the deadly search, 31-year-old Jonathan Brown, was located and arrested next door, Fox29 reports. The second suspect, 25-year-old Anthony Michael Rodriguez, was nabbed during a traffic stop, arrested and charged with felony battery. He is being held on $2,000 bail.
The deadly error is now being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Scott, who worked for two years at a Hungry Howie's pizza restaurant, was described by boss and store owner Pat Casalaspro as trustworthy and "happy go lucky."
"He was a standup guy," Casalaspro told the Orlando Sentinel. "He would give you the shirt off his back."
"I guarantee you he was trying to protect himself," he added.