POLK CITY, Fla. - Loved ones and fellow law enforcement officers are mourning the loss of a 21-year-old Polk County deputy who was killed by gunfire from a fellow deputy's gun while serving a warrant in Polk City early Tuesday morning.
Sheriff Grady Judd said four deputies were serving a felony warrant around 2 a.m. on Foxtown South for 46-year-old Cheryl Williams, who had an outstanding felony warrant for failure to appear on a possession of meth charge. Investigators said she has a criminal history that includes 11 felonies and four misdemeanors, and spent 9 years in the Florida state prison.
According to investigators, three of the four deputies had entered the trailer while 21-year-old Deputy Blane Lane took a concealed tactical position outside, where he had a view of the door and windows in the event the suspect tried to flee. The deputies inside the trailer encountered Williams, who Judd said pointed a gun at them.
Aerial view showing crime scene where Polk County deputy-involved shooting occurred.
Judd said, though it is early in the investigation, it appears two of the deputies opened fire. Williams was shot twice, but one of the rounds from the deputies' firearms also went through the wall of the trailer and hit Lane.
"He was doing exactly like he was trained," Judd said.
Investigators later realized Williams' silver handgun was actually a "very realistic-looking" BB gun.
"She created this entire event. She forced this shooting," Judd said. "She knew if she pointed this gun at my deputies in the middle of the night, that we would return fire or open fire to keep her from killing one of our deputies."
Lane was shot in the arm, and the round entered his chest. He was rushed to Lakeland Regional Hospital, where he passed away.
"The deputies are devastated," Judd said. "Words can't adequately explain the absolute grief we feel."
Body of Polk County deputy placed into ambulance before procession.
Williams was transported to a local hospital to be treated for gunshot wounds and is in stable condition. Judd said it appeared to be an attempt of "suicide by cop."
Deputies interviewed a witness after the fact, who told them that when Williams realized deputies were in the trailer, she picked up the BB gun and walked away from him. When the witness warned her, "You don't want to do that," he said she replied, "Let them in."
Investigators said she will be charged with felony second-degree murder upon her release from the hospital.
Law enforcement officers gather to pray outside the medical examiner's office following the death of a Polk County deputy.
A procession carrying the deputy's body from the hospital began Tuesday morning. Tears were falling as deputies carried the casket and placed it inside a Polk County Fire Rescue ambulance.
Patrol cars were used to block traffic, clearing the route to the medical examiner's office. Law enforcement officers stood outside, saluting the fallen deputy as the procession passed by.
Drivers heading in the opposite directions stopped in their lanes and stood outside their vehicles to watch for themselves. After arriving at the destination, officers gathered in a circle to pray.
Lane was sworn in as a detention deputy in May 2021, and became a patrol deputy in January 2022, Judd said.
The Mulberry High School graduate dreamed of becoming a law enforcement officer. A family friend told FOX 13 it was Lane's goal to one day take over for Sheriff Judd and become the head of the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
He described the young deputy as "eager, brilliant, and willing to learn," adding that he was very careful on the job and mature beyond his years.
Lane leaves behind a 3-year-old child.