Brevard County deputy shot during neighbors' spat over feral cats

Deputy expected to be OK; man with rifle killed

By Jon Jankowski - Digital journalist

INDIALANTIC, Fla. - A Brevard County sheriff's deputy was shot multiple times and seriously wounded Tuesday night during a shootout that stemmed from an argument over feral cats, authorities said.

The shooting happened around 8:30 p.m. in the 200 block of Avenida De La Vista, a residential area in unincorporated Indialantic.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said the deputy, whose name has not been released, was called to a neighborhood dispute over the feeding of feral cats when one of the men became agitated. 

The man armed himself with a rifle and opened fire, Ivey said. The deputy returned fire, and the man was later pronounced dead, Ivey said.

The deputy, who was struck several times, underwent surgery overnight at Holmes Regional Medical Center, but he is expected to be OK, according to Ivey.

When visited at the hospital, Ivey said the deputy told him, "I won." 

"This started out as as disturbance," Ivey said. "We tell our community all the time that sometimes going out on disturbances is one of the most dangerous parts of our team's job." 

Dennis Arnensten, who lives in the area, said the suspect was always involved in arguments with neighbors about the feral cats.

"He feeds all the cats everywhere down here and we always used to say, 'If you want to feed them, fine, feed them at your house,' but he comes all the way down here, puts pans out and all the neighbors weren't too happy with him," Arnensten said.

He heard the gunshots Tuesday night.

"Once I heard all this noise, I knew it was gunshots, the sound of it," he said.

An investigation is ongoing, and the deputy will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome, which is standard procedure.

The shooting marks the first time a Brevard County deputy has been seriously wounded in a shooting since August  2015 when Agent John "Casey" Smith was shot multiple times while conducting a prostitution investigation in Port St. John.

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