Justin Tucker was so distraught that his daughter wouldn't be visiting for the holidays, he tried to hang himself with a belt on Christmas Eve, Pinellas sheriff's deputies said. Then he pulled out a rifle and a hatchet, and his wife called 911.
Deputies arrived at 4116 Salem Square Parkway in Palm Harbor Tuesday morning to find Tucker, 78, in his bedroom, waving both weapons.
Deputy John Sachse Jr. pointed his gun at Tucker and asked him to drop the weapons. Tucker moved out into the living room, dropped the rifle on a nearby chair and, with the hatchet still in hand, yelled at Sachse to shoot him.
Instead, Sachse put away his gun and pulled out his Taser. Tucker's wife, 55-year-old Ana Tucker, tried to calm him as he stood in the living room but her husband told her to move away, deputies said.
When Tucker finally lowered the hatchet, Sachse used the Taser to knock him to the ground.
Tucker sustained minor injuries from the fall, deputies said. He was treated at the scene, then taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office praised the deputy for using intervention techniques to avoid what is often called "suicide by cop."
"This is an example of great restraint and excellent police work in dealing with a mental health issue where the outcome could have been much different," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.
Claire Wiseman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727)-893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.