The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office is deeply saddened by the loss of these fallen heroes. Anyone wishing to donate to the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Star Charities may do so at 50 2nd Street in Shalimar.
In Honor of our Fallen Heroes
Corporal Ray Hamilton was shot and killed during a barricade at the 710 block of North Park Boulevard in Wright.
Deputies had responded to the apartment at about 9:00 am to investigate a domestic assault that had occurred the previous night. The suspect refused to exit the home, and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team responded to the scene. The man fired out of a window at about 12:40 pm, striking Corporal Hamilton.
Corporal Hamilton was transported to Fort Walton Beach – Destin Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds several hours later.
The subject was charged with premeditated first-degree murder.
Corporal Hamilton had served with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for five years. He is survived by his wife, brother, and two sisters.
Deputy Sheriff Michael Neau died from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty while working at 1940 Lewis Turner Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach.
Deputy Neau had served with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years. He is survived by his wife and six children.
Deputy Sheriff Bill Myers was shot and killed while serving a domestic violence injunction at a local attorney’s office on Plew Avenue, in Shalimar, at approximately 8:20 am.
He had served the papers on the subject and was leaving the office when the man opened fire from behind, striking him multiple times in the back and the back of the head.
The man fled to a local hotel where he barricaded himself in a room for approximately 90 minutes. He was shot and killed by members of the agency’s Special Response Team after exiting the room displaying a firearm.
Deputy Myers was a U.S. Air Force veteran and had served with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for a total of 26 years. He had retired from the agency after serving 25 years and then returned as a part-time deputy in January 2015 to assist with serving civil papers.
Deputy Sheriff Burt Lopez and Deputy Sheriff Skip York were shot and killed while attempting to arrest a domestic violence suspect at a shooting range at 3985 US-90 in Crestview.
The deputies were following up on a domestic assault report they had taken hours earlier and located the suspect at a gun club in Crestview. The suspect was in the parking lot standing next to his truck. Deputy Lopez and Deputy York approached the man, had a brief conversation with him, and then informed him he was going to be arrested. As the deputies moved to handcuff him, he became uncooperative and began to resist arrest. Deputy York deployed his Taser and hit the suspect. The suspect dropped to the ground during the five-second jolt of electricity. When the Taser cycle ended, the man immediately drew a concealed handgun and opened fire. Deputy Lopez was able to radio for assistance while he and Deputy York engaged the man in a gun battle.
During the exchange of gunfire, Deputy Lopez was mortally wounded. The suspect then climbed into his truck to escape. Deputy York pulled the passenger-side door open and jumped inside in an effort to pull the man from the vehicle, but was shot and mortally wounded.
The man fled the scene and opened fire at deputies from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office during a vehicle pursuit. The man’s vehicle was rammed by deputies, causing it to flip over near the intersection of U.S. Highway 331 and U.S. 90 in DeFuniak Springs. The man exited the truck and opened fire at the deputies, who returned fire, killing him.
Deputy York and Deputy Lopez were airlifted to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. They succumbed to their injuries later in the day.
Deputy Sheriff Anthony Forgione was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a suspect who had escaped from custody while he was undergoing a mental evaluation at a local hospital.
The suspect had returned to his childhood home at 331 Plymouth Avenue, in Fort Walton Beach, and barricaded himself inside while negotiators attempted to talk him out of the abandoned house. The Special Response Team entered the home after the negotiators failed to receive a response from inside. As the team entered, the man opened fire and killed Deputy Forgione. Other deputies returned fire as the subject committed suicide.
Deputy Forgione had served with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for three years and had previously served with the Fort Walton Beach Police Department. He is survived by his wife and two young daughters.
Sheriff John Summerlin was killed when his vehicle was struck by a train at a railroad crossing one mile east of Crestview.
A representative from the state hospital, in Chattahoochee, had gone to Crestview in order to accompany a man back to the hospital who had been declared insane. The representative requested that Sheriff Summerlin accompany him to the man’s home in order to retrieve him. An acquaintance of the man, who happened to be at the sheriff’s office, also accompanied them.
When they arrived at the subject’s home they retrieved him and a relative. All five men were returning to the Crestview train station in order to drop the hospital representative and subject on the next train. As they approached a railroad crossing the train struck their vehicle.
One of the occupants was able to jump from the car before it was struck, but Sheriff Summerlin and the other three occupants remained in the vehicle. Sheriff Summerlin was killed instantly and the other three serious injuries. All three died within a short time later.
Sheriff Summerlin had been elected sheriff during the previous election and had been sworn in only three weeks prior.