Deputies kill man after domestic violence call

St. Johns sheriff's deputies say man reached under bed to get firearm

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter, Stacey Readout - Assistant News Director

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said deputies shot and killed a 66-year-old St. Augustine man late Tuesday night after he reached under a bed to retrieve a firearm.

Deputies responded about 10:30 p.m. to a call about a domestic disturbance at at home on Colee Cove Road. Four deputies who responded say they met a woman who said she was a victim of domestic violence.

Kevin Kelshaw, spokesman for the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, said the suspect, identified as Abbott Bennett, physically assaulted the victim and threatened to kill her.

"Our deputies responded to the residence and confronted the individual," Kelshaw said.

During the confrontation between Bennett and three of the deputies, Bennett reached under the bed where weapons were believed to be stored, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said they tried stun Bennett with a Taser, but that was not successful. Two deputies -- Cpl. Kevin Kier and Deputy Charles Simpkiss -- shot Bennett, who died at the scene. The third deputy, who wasn't involved in the shooting, was identified as Deputy Casey Romein.

The deputies involved were not injured, neither was the female victim. The two involved in the shooting are on administrative leave, which is standard protocol. Kier has 13 years of service and Simpkiss has seven. This was their first shooting. Romein has a year and four months of service.

"Deputies are always on alert and need to be. Luckily they went home, and unfortunately we had a tragedy where an individual lost his life, and hopefully that won't happen again," Kelshaw said.

The Sheriff's Office has secured a search warrant to go back inside the home.

"We'll be gathering evidence, looking at it and determining all the factors surrounding the investigation," Kelshaw said.

Deputies said they're not commenting about the nature of the relationship between the man and the woman. Deputies are not saying if there was a history of domestic violence at the home.

The state attorney's office and the Medical Examiner are involved in the investigation.

"This is very rare, never happens, never see this much commotion," said Leslie Kemper, who lives near the shooting scene.

"It's tragic. It's very sad anytime that happens, and it's certainly not something we see around here," resident Pat Russell added.

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