BRANDON — Deputies shot and killed a man who went on a violent rampage, stabbing a cat and breaking a window early Tuesday in a Brandon apartment complex, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.
Lew G. Tyree II, 41, was shot at least three times after deputies tried to talk him into dropping a knife, authorities said. He later died at Brandon Regional Hospital.
Neighbors in the apartment complex began calling 911 about 5:30 a.m. to report Tyree carrying a large butcher knife and threatening people with a 20-pound barbell, said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. At one point, someone in an apartment near 3117 Bloomingdale Villas Court reported that Tyree was trying to break a front window.
Deputies Steve Gutierrez, 35, Marina Stroud, 34, and James Maiello, 25, arrived and tried to talk to Tyree. Stroud, who is a crisis intervention specialist, tried to get Tyree to drop the knife but he refused. Another deputy fired a Taser, but it failed to subdue Tyree. He then turned toward the deputies and made threatening comments from about 5 feet away, deputies said.
As Tyree stood in the street, neighbors heard the deputies yelling.
"We heard them say 'Get on the ground!' " said Willie Fraley, 38, who then heard what sounded like firecrackers. "I didn't even know it was gunshots. We came outside, and there was a body on the ground."
Gutierrez, Stroud, and Maiello were all put on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated, a standard procedure whenever a deputy is involved in a shooting. The deputies have been employed with the Sheriff's Office since 2007, 2009, and 2011, respectively.
"It looked like they were in a situation where they had no choice," Gee said.
The knife that deputies said Tyree used to stab the cat lay in the road long after he was taken to the hospital. Its blade was stained with blood.
Deputies were looking for the cat but had not been able to find it as of midday Tuesday.
Residents of nearby apartments stood in driveways sipping coffee, chatting and watching as deputies blocked the street with yellow tape and erected evidence markers near a basketball hoop.
Tyree lived at 3219 Bloomingdale Villas Court, an apartment about 100 yards from where he was shot.
In the yard, detectives found pieces of burned clothing that Tyree had apparently set ablaze before marching through the complex to where he tried to break the window, Gee said. Neighbors told deputies that he was known for causing trouble in the neighborhood.
Records show Tyree has run afoul of the law three times in Hillsborough County since 2011. In May of that year, he ran naked into the pool area at a Riverview apartment complex. While "acting irrationally," he punched a woman in the face and bit a man's genitals, according to an arrest report. Tyree later admitted smoking PCP-laced marijuana.
He was fined and given a year's probation for each of two battery charges. Public nudity and resisting arrest charges were dropped. Authorities got a warrant for Tyree in 2012 because he didn't pay more than $3,100 in court costs and restitution, court records show.
Tyree's most recent arrest record listed his occupation as a self-employed barber.
He is a U.S. Navy veteran who moved to Florida more than 20 years ago, said his father, Lew Tyree Sr., of Charleston, W.Va.
The elder Tyree declined to comment on what may have led to his son's confrontation with deputies. He said the family is still trying to find out more.
In 1998, the younger Tyree married Kathryn Gooden, court records show. In August 2013, she sought a domestic violence injunction. Kathryn Tyree said in court documents that her husband threatened to harm her, as well as family and friends. He also said she "had no business on earth if it wasn't as his wife." A judge denied the request because threats alone aren't enough to get an injunction.
Last month, she filed for divorce. Divorce papers indicate the couple has two children, ages 11 and 15. Tyree was issued a summons in the divorce case Monday.
His wife declined to comment Tuesday.
"He's a good young man," his father said. "But he has had some problems and some challenges."
Times news researcher John Martin and staff writer Jimmy Geurts contributed to this report. Dan Sullivan can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.