Published October 21, 2012
Two off-duty Florida law-enforcement officers fatally shot an armed, naked woman who confronted them at a party Saturday, authorities said.
The shooting occurred at about 1:15 p.m. Saturday in Hernando County, north of Tampa. The county sheriff's office said in a news release that the men were approached by an "armed, naked and irrational female." The news release does not identify the weapon, but it says "one or both of the law enforcement officers fired their weapons, striking the female." She died at the scene.
"She was just acting irrational," Hernando County Sheriff Al Neinhuis told MyFoxTampaBay. "It was obvious being naked she was not in her right mind."
Neinhuis said someone at the party called 911 to report her, but she returned to the gathering before police could arrive.
"She came back with a weapon and confronted both the Tampa police officer and my sheriff's office detective," Neinhuis told MyFoxTampaBay. "She came with a weapon and I would surmise that they felt their life was in danger."
Both officers have been placed on administrative leave as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the shooting in the Spring Hill community.
Authorities have identified the officers as Hernando County sheriff's Detective Rocky Allen Howard, 31, and Tampa police officer William Mechler, 26, who have served six and four years, respectively. Tampa police say Mechler was "off duty and acting in the capacity of a private citizen."
Lt. Cinda Moore, a spokeswoman for the Hernando sheriff's office, said in an email late Saturday that she could not immediately identify the woman or disclose the weapon she was carrying. She said she also could not comment on what the woman specifically said or did or whether she was told to drop the weapon, explaining that the FDLE is leading the investigation.
The Hernando County sheriff's office does permit the carrying of service weapons when off-duty, she said.
The Tampa-area shooting comes two weeks after a naked, unarmed University of South Alabama freshman was fatally shot by a campus police officer after going to the police station there and pounding on the glass. The shooting has led to protests by students.
Police said 18-year-old Gil Collar had taken LSD and acted aggressively when an officer came outside carrying a gun. The officer repeatedly backed away from the student before firing. An attorney for the student's family says Collar never touched the officer and the fatal shooting never should have happened. Authorities have said a grand jury will review that shooting to determine whether charges should be filed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.