PLANT CITY, Fla. — A Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy took his own life Wednesday morning after killing three other family members.
- 4 dead in Plant City-area murder-suicide
- Deputy radioed that he harmed 3 family members, was going to kill self
- Despite attempts to stop him, deputy killed himself
- SEPT 24: Hillsborough deputy shoots, kills wife and then himself
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
According to Sheriff Chad Chronister, the deputy, — identified as Terry Strawn, 58 — killed two family members. They included an adult female and a female child at one location in Plant City, and an adult female at another location in Plant City.
The victims were identified as Theresa Strawn, 54, Courtney Strawn, 32, and Londyn Strawn, 6.
Strawn killed himself at a location near Plant City High School. The Sheriff's Office sent peer-support team members to the murder locations, as well as to the school where the younger victim attended.
The deputy used his service weapon in the slayings, Chronister said.
Photo of Courtney Strawn, 32, and Londyn Strawn, 6. (Photos from sheriff's office via family)
Chronister added that Strawn, who had been with the department since 1991, retired two years ago but had recently been rehired by the agency to serve as a security official at Valrico Elementary School. Londyn Strawn was a student at that school.
Just before 6:30 a.m., the deputy radioed in that Terry Strawn had "caused harm to his family," according to Chronister.
The deputy gave addresses to the locations and also said he was going to kill himself. A supervisor tried repeatedly to talk him out of it.
A short time later, three deputies found him near Plant City High and tried to "convince him there was different way."
The deputy took his life in front of his three co-workers.
"We've started that process," Chronister said of helping deputies with potential mental health issues. "I'm extremely concerned as we've seen suicide rates that have risen."
Chronister said there was "no indication whatsoever" that Strawn would conduct himself in the manner that he did.
Strawn did indicate during the morning transmission, however, that he was struggling with health and financial issues. The only disciplinary problems he faced as a deputy were defacing Sheriff's Office property in 1998 and two traffic crashes in 2008 for which he was at fault.
Neighbor Micah Hammel moved next to Terry Strawn's home about three weeks ago.
"You don't think it happens because you always see it elsewhere, and especially with law enforcement," Hammel said. "It just shows that they’re under as much stress as everybody else."
Another neighbor, Denise April, almost cried when talking about Londyn.
"They never bothered me. They seemed very nice," April said. "I said hello all the time. They were just, I don’t know. I just can't believe this."
Chronister added another Hillsborough deputy killed his wife and committed suicide in September, prompting the agency to ramp up its mental health evaluation and treatment efforts.
"Why is this occurring? I wish I knew," he said. "But as an agency, we're certainly being proactive."
The sheriff's department has developed a suicide awareness and prevention program as part of yearly in-service training, Chronister said.
That program is set to start January 1.
"We have to change the culture," Chronister said. "We have to let everyone know it's OK to ask for help."