Sunday, April 22, 2018
Public safety

Police say man apparently committed suicide aboard rented boat in Treasure Island

TREASURE ISLAND — A man appeared to have shot himself in the head aboard a rented boat Saturday before falling into the water off Treasure Island, according to police.

The boat, described in a news release as "a small bow-rider type vessel," washed up about 2:20 p.m. in the 10600 block of Treasure Island. On board, officers found blood on the inside of the gunwales, police said.

Authorities began an investigation and the U.S. Coast Guard searched the waters near where the boat was found. About a mile away, they found a body, later identified as that of John Matthew Wheeler.

Wheeler, 37, of Wimauma, had rented the boat from a Treasure Island business and ventured onto the water in rough sea conditions against the advice of the rental company's owners, police said. When he was found, he had a gunshot wound to his head.

An initial investigation found that Wheeler's death appeared to be suicide, authorities said. His body will be examined by the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office, who will determine an official cause of death.

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