PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- It began as a fight over doughnuts but police say an incident in Florida erupted into a full-blown police standoff, an injured deputy and a fatal shooting.
One deputy was shot in the leg after the suspect, identified as Jeffrey Falsey, fired at least 30 rounds from inside the trailer he shared with his mother in Pinellas County.
The bullets struck neighboring homes and vehicles and had deputies pinned down. In the gunfire, Pinellas County deputy Michael Ficocelli was shot when he tried to retrieve his rifle but is said to be in good condition at Bayfront Medical Center.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri addressed the media Wednesday afternoon to give the details on what led up to the shooting and standoff with deputies.
Neighbors, meanwhile, said it was chaos.
“It was like, pop, pop, pop. And I saw the first black car come racing up with his lights on,” neighbor Gayle Gerbes said.
A swarm of tactical officers descended on the area.
“They said they could hear a woman screaming inside the house,” said Denise Joyal.
A concussion grenade distracted Falsey just long enough for the SWAT team to move in. His mother, Di Fabbio, had gotten out alive. But inside the house, deputies found her fiancé dead.
Falsey, they said, had used a shotgun to kill Daniel Kulwicki, “who he had issues with,” said Gualtieri, “because he was a sex offender.”
Deputies said that inside the house Falsey also had a .45 caliber handgun, a Tech Nine and a .223 rifle. Falsey had gotten the weapons, they say, from his father who also lives in St. Petersburg.
The sheriff said deputies were called out to the same house on a domestic violence call in January. At the time, Falsey was charged with domestic battery on Kulwicki, but his weapons were not confiscated.
“We have somebody that has significant mental health issues, a history of domestic violence, a history of not getting along with his mother," Gualtieri said. "He's been charged with domestic battery, he's out on bond. He's acquired a significant number of firearms and he went off today over donuts. Something as silly and as stupid as donuts.”
Deputies arrived at the trailer around 9:30 a.m. Di Fabbio left the home and was not harmed, but Falsey remained inside with Kulwicki.
Gualtieri said deputies were aware that Falsey had several weapons. Those weapons were not seized during January's arrest because deputies did not have probable cause to take them.
Deputies approached the front door and spoke with Falsey who invited them inside. The deputies did not enter the home believing Falsey was waiting to ambush them, Gualtieri said.
Falsey then fired several times with one round striking Ficocelli. Gualtieri said that Falsey was using a home surveillance system to watch the deputies' movements.
The SWAT team responded and a large perimeter was set up to protect the public from the gunfire. Eventually, the gunfire ended and SWAT negotiators were able to convince Falsey to surrender peacefully. Gualtieri said that no deputies returned fire during this time.
WTSP-TV reporter Eric Glasser was at the scene where he obtained exclusive photos of Falsey surrendering to deputies. Falsey was not injured.
When deputies entered the trailer, they discovered Kulwicki dead from a shotgun round to his forehead.
Gualtieri said that the Falsey's mental health issues and history of domestic violence were an "ongoing unfortunately common situation."
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