Florida deputy shot in head while responding to dispute involving cat; suspect arrested

A Florida sheriff's deputy was in critical condition Monday morning after being shot in the head hours earlier responding to a dispute involving a cat, officials said.

The suspected gunman, a 69-year-old convicted felon with a history of violence toward law enforcement, was taken into custody.

Joseph Ables

Joseph Edwards Ables, 69, is accused of shooting a Florida sheriff's deputy Sunday night.  (Highlands County Jail)

Deputy William Gentry, 40, was shot just before 8 p.m. Sunday after cops received a call about a neighbor shooting a cat in Lake Placid, FOX13 reported. Gentry, a field training officer, and a trainee went to the cat owner’s home before confronting the alleged feline shooter, Joseph Edwards Ables, 69.

Gentry went to Ables' house, where Ables immediately opened fire and shot the deputy in the head, police said.

“Please keep our deputy's family and our HCSO family in your prayers,” the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office wrote on its social media pages.

Ables was taken into custody at the scene and faces several charges including possession of a weapon or ammo by a convicted felon, attempted first-degree murder without premeditation and resisting an officer with violence, police said. 

Gentry is a 9-year veteran of the force, WFLA reported. 

"William is an experienced law enforcement officer and serves as one of our Field Training Deputies," Sheriff Paul Blackman said. "His brother is one of our detectives. This is an unimaginable tragedy for our agency. Our prayers are with Deputy Gentry and his family."

He added: "We are asking our community, here in Lake Placid as well as Highlands County to please pray for Deputy Gentry and hope that he will see his way through this."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he offered all state resources after receiving news about the deputy shooting.

"I have spoken with @HighCoSheriff Blackman on the deputy shot tonight & offered all state resources. Hurting a LEO is pure evil & we won't stand for it. I ask all Floridians to pray for the family, the HCSO & all the brave LEOs who go above & beyond every day to keep us safe," Scott tweeted.