TOWN 'N COUNTRY — The tenant was supposed to be out of his apartment by 6 a.m.
He had received a final eviction notice, and as they do regularly is such cases across the county, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies knocked on the tenant's door at a Town 'N Country condominium complex Friday to make sure he was gone.
Within minutes, the everyday scenario became chaotic.
One deputy ran for cover. Another fled the condo. And the Sheriff's Office launched a five-hour rescue operation, forcing nearby residents from their homes and shutting down a busy portion of Hillsborough Avenue.
It started at 9 a.m., with a loud knock on the door. No one answered at William P. Elliott's unit at the Tudor Cay Condominiums, so the landlord gave deputies a key.
When the two deputies walked inside, they did not immediately see Elliott, 59, in the messy living room. When they spotted him, he had a gun, the Sheriff's Office said. He said something about wanting to hurt himself.
Master Deputy Gary Hammond, 57, shut himself in the bathroom.
Deputy Orenthial Nicholson, 30, who was near the front door, ran outside.
Someone called 911, and deputies flocked to the scene. They evacuated nearby residents in the complex, at 9113 W Hillsborough Ave. They also closed Hillsborough between Memorial Highway and Sussex Drive.
Their No. 1 priority: getting Hammond, a 25-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, out safely.
And they did, through a second-story window, shortly before noon. He was not injured.
Deputies then sent in a bomb robot with a camera that can relay images to investigators outside. Deputies saw Elliott, and he appeared "extremely intoxicated," said sheriff's spokeswoman Cristal Bermudez Nunez. His gun was nearby, but he was not holding it.
Deputies went into the condo at about 2 p.m.
Authorities took Elliott to Tampa General Hospital and held him Friday under the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows for the temporary detention of a person who is having a mental health emergency.
Elliott had previously been held under the Baker Act on Nov. 30, deputies said.
Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.