A Florida sheriff’s deputy murdered three of his family members — including his young granddaughter — and then radioed in their deaths before taking his own life Wednesday, according to officials.
“He [used] his service revolver to commit these acts of violence,” explained Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister during an afternoon press conference.
Deputy Terry Strawn fatally shot his 54-year-old wife Theresa, his 32-year-old daughter Courtney and 6-year-old granddaughter Londyn sometime before 6:42 a.m. and then turned the gun on himself.
Before committing suicide, he went over the main channel of the sheriff’s office radio and told his co-workers about what he did — saying he “caused harm” to his family and had to go be with them, Chronister said.
Strawn had just returned to the sheriff’s department after retiring in 2017, and was excited to get started back as a school security officer.
“The deputy had no indicators or behavioral issues,” Chronister said, calling him an “exemplary employee.”
“He had just learned that we were gonna keep him,” the sheriff added. “He was extremely grateful. Indicated that ‘Christmas came early.’”
But something apparently changed in the 58-year-old and caused him to snap Wednesday.
“During his radio transmission, [Strawn] wanted to make sure that we all took care of each other, that we knew that depression was real, alluded to the fact that he was struggling with some health and financial issues…indicated that he was losing everything…and at one point said that he had to go,” recalled Chronister. “He appreciated all the help, but he had to go…He had to go be with his family.”
Hired in 1991, Strawn only had two minor infractions throughout his entire career.
“That’s it,” Chronister said. “Again, no indications. No behavior issues. Nothing that would lead any of us to believe that this employee was struggling.”
Strawn murdered his wife and granddaughter at the home that they shared, and his daughter at her residence, according to Chronister.
He then went to a nearby high school and shot himself in front of deputies after informing them of his whereabouts.
“Same thing with a lot of murder-suicides, there [were] no indicators,” Chronister said. “None at all.”
Strawn is the second Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office employee to take his own life in recent months after killing a member of their family. Deputy Kirk Keithley fatally shot his 33-year-old wife Samantha inside their home while their four children were inside.
“I hate that the fact that society believes that only violence or suicide is an option to whatever they’re struggling with,” Chronister said. “It’s incumbent upon all of us to change the culture of society — that it’s OK to ask for help. You don’t have to resort to violence or suicide.”