2 guns found in room where deputies killed man

Investigators say 66-year-old reached under bed to get firearm

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - Detectives with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said they found two loaded handguns in a drawer under a bed in a room where deputies shot and killed a man Tuesday night.

Two deputies shot 66-year-old Abbott Bennett, of St. Augustine, when they said he reached under the 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. Deputies said they met a woman who said she was a victim of domestic violence.

LISTEN: 911 call before deputy-involved shooting

They said Bennett physically assaulted the victim and threatened to kill her.

"He just threatened (her) and threw (her) on the ground," Bennett's brother-in-law told a 911 dispatcher. "She is on her way over here. He threatened to kill her if anyone tried to do anything."

"Do you know if he has any weapons in the house?" the dispatcher asked.

"I don't know if she's grabbed them from the house, but he does have two 9mm, either 9mm or .380 auto pistols," Bennett's brother-in-law said.

"Did he threaten her with a gun tonight or he just have them in the residence?" the dispatcher asked.

"He just has them in the residence," Bennett's brother-in-law said. "He threatened to kill her if she tried to, and she has left the house. She is on her way over to our residence."

"Once we got on scene, deputies attempted to make contact with the suspect," Sgt. Catherine Payne said. "He did not reply to us at the door, at which point deputies entered the residence to make contact with him."

Deputies said they found Bennett upstairs and tried to make him comply, but the situation escalated quickly, and struggle began between Bennett and the deputies.

Deputies said they tried stun Bennett with a Taser, but that was not successful.

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. Investigators said Thursday they found a .38 special and a 9mm/.380 in the drawer under the bed.

Investigators said at least two deputies -- Cpl. Kevin Kier and Deputy Charles Simpkiss -- fired shots in the direction of 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. All three deputies involved 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.

The Medical Examiner ruled Bennett's death a homicide by multiple gunshot wounds.

A neighbor who said she knew the people who lived at the house very well said Bennett loved gardening and was very friendly. She said she's never seen any type of domestic disputes there before and has never seen Bennett like that before.

The Sheriff's Office said it had one previous call for service at Bennett's home in 2006 when he was despondent. They said appropriate law enforcement action was taken, but he was not arrested.

Detectives said the investigation is continuing and is expected to last for several weeks. They said they will try to determine if the handguns found in Bennett's house were legally purchased.

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