RIVERVIEW, Fla. — Authorities in Florida say an 88-year-old man died after being shot by a sheriff's deputy at a Riverview home on Tuesday morning.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told reporters during a press conference that the man was armed and was a 23-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department.
Chronister said their office received a call just before 7:30 a.m. from a woman concerned about the well-being of her elderly neighbor, 88-year-old Ronald Ehrich, after not seeing him for two days.
The neighbor said she noticed that the garage door and door to the inside of his home were open.
Chronister said after arriving at the home on Longcrest Drive and speaking to the concerned neighbor Deputy Anastacia Castillo put on some latex gloves believing she would be entering the home to provide medical aid.
Upon entering the home, Castillo announced that she was with the sheriff's office as she searched each room of the first floor looking for Ehrich.
According to Chronister, as she made her way to the second floor, Castillo knocked on the walls of the stairway, continuously saying she was with the sheriff's office, and eventually came upon a locked bedroom door.
After nobody responded when she knocked on the bedroom door, Castillo searched the second floor.
Chronister said after not finding anyone in the other bedrooms, Casillo went back to knock on the locked bedroom door, and that was when she heard a man say he was armed with a gun. Hence, she immediately attempted to deescalate the situation.
"Sheriff's Office, I'm here to help you. Sheriff's office, your neighbors are worried about you that's why I'm here. Sheriff's Office, we're here to help you."
Chronister said that Ehrich opened the door and started moving towards Castillo with the gun.
As Ehrich continued to move toward Castillo, she kept moving away from him until she was pinned to the wall in one of the bedrooms, "where she could go no further."
"Sir, drop that gun! Sir, drop that gun!"
"He advances towards her. She's left with no option being in fear for her life at that time and discharges her service weapon," Chronister said.
Chronister said Ehrich died from his injuries at St. Joseph's Hospital.
Castillo, who has been with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department since 2015, has no previous history of use of deadly force, according to Chronister.
“There is no other way to describe this other than tragic,” said Chronister. “This deputy went in to save a life, expecting to find someone experiencing a medical emergency. She made every attempt to deescalate the situation before being forced to fire her weapon for her safety.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is now investigating per HCSO's policy.