Polk County deputies shot and killed a man early Wednesday that was armed with a shotgun.
- Polk deputies shoot, kill armed man
- Man killed was 20-year-old Chance Christopher Haegele of Winter Haven
- Sheriff Grady Judd said Haegele had history of mental issues
According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, 20-year-old Chance Christopher Haegele died after a confrontation with deputies in Winter Haven.
Late Wednesday night, the sheriff's office received multiple calls from a student at FSU about Haegele and from the Haegele home. During one of the calls, a voice described as Haegele's said he wanted to die, Judd said.
Deputies also learned of an ominous message Haegele posted on Snapchat: “Tell me why the ***I shouldn’t kill myself. Life is so ** boring.” I don’t want to work for the rest of my life. We’re so irrelevant in the grand scheme of the universe. I’m never going to fall in love again. Nobody wants a trailer boy.”
A woman also went to the Winter Haven Police Department to report Haegele's mental state.
Deputies responded to the home on Jay Drive in Winter Haven after the overnight 911 calls. When they arrived at 11:15 p.m., they found Haegele, armed with the shotgun, arguing outside the home with his mother.
As she tried to get him to put down the weapon, he pushed her aside and tried to run off.
Deputies flanked him and repeatedly ordered him to drop the weapon. He did not, Judd said, at eventually the deputies fired 17 shots, striking Haegele multiple times and killing him.
An investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
"There were a lot of opportunities in advance (to avoid this)," Judd said. "It is a sad ending to a troubled life."
"The individual has to want to get the help."
During a press conference, Judd listed the number of occasions law enforcement had come in contact with Haegele prior to his death. He reportedly had been Baker Acted at least four times within the past year, and three times before that in Tallahassee.
Each time, Judd said it was because Haegele was exhibiting suicidal thoughts, and each time deputies followed up with Haegele after his release. Each time, Judd said Haegele told deputies he was doing better and recovering.
Kirk Fasshauer, Director of Crisis Services at the Peace River Center in Lakeland, said people are prescribed medication and outpatient therapy when exhibiting suicidal thoughts. After the three days, if the person isn’t deemed a threat to the community or themselves, they’re released.
“The individual has to want to get the help," Fasshauer explained. "Nobody can really stay with them 24/7.”
Fasshauer said they screen people before they are released, but it’s not a perfect system.
"They can lie on a screening tool. They can lie to you in person, as well," Fasshauer said. "We try our best to assess the situation. Any crisis assessment is only as good as that moment in time."
Fasshauer said people can be admitted to state hospitals for more mental health treatment, but it has to be court ordered, and it’s usually reserved for people who have psychotic thoughts or are bipolar or schizophrenic, due to the high cost of the treatment.
Candace Barnes, Peace River's Director of Clinical Programs, said it's important to note most people cooperate with outpatient services.
"We don't hear about all of the people who deal with depression everyday and aren't a threat to anybody," Barnes said. "It's really the exception and not the rule that things like this happen."