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Courts / Law

Hillsborough County Deputy Kills Family, Self

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said he is "saddened beyond comprehension" that one of his own deputies killed family members and himself Wednesday. 

Terry Strawn, 58, was a retired deputy who served a school resource officer at Valrico Elementary. That's where his 6-year-old granddaughter, Londyn, attended school.  The girl lived with Strawn and his wife Theresa Strawn.

Early Wednesday morning, dispatchers heard from Strawn on the radio. He told them that depression was real, that he was struggling with health and financial issues. Chronister said he even conveyed that he was "losing everything."

"He went on to say that he had just killed his wife and his grandaughter, he then said that went over to his daughter's house and killed his daughter," Chronister said. "Throughout the entire dialogue on the radio, the dispatchers did a wonderful job of trying to convince him that suicide was not the answer."

Three of his fellow deputies confronted Strawn near Plant City High School, but Strawn still took his own life. 

Chronister said there was nothing to indicate there was trouble brewing with Strawn.

He also said there were no red flags in the case of Hillsborough County Deputy Kirk Keithley, who shot and killed his wife Samantha Keithley in September in Pasco County.

The sheriff decried the "fact that society believes that only violence or suicide is an option to whatever they're struggling with."

He said it's incumbent on all of us to change the culture of society so it's okay to ask for help.

Chronister said being a law enforcement officer in today's society is "extremely stressful," but, he said, "that doesn't warrant or excuse any type of acts of violence by a law enforcement, to themselves or others."

He also made a plea to anyone struggling to call 211 for help.