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Deputies must subdue knife-wielding father

Pasco sheriff's deputies used stun guns early Saturday to control a 38-year-old father of three who was threatening to kill himself and imploring deputies to shoot him.

Lance R. Hunsher of 5548 Belleza Drive remained hospitalized Sunday at Community Hospital in New Port Richey. He was admitted under the Baker Act following an early-morning tirade in his front yard. The Baker Act is a Florida law that allows police officers to take for mental evaluation people who appear likely to harm themselves of others because of mental illness.

Sheriff's reports gave this account:

Deputy Raymond Meddaugh responded to a call at the Hunsher address at about 6 a.m. Saturday. Several people were standing outside a neighbor's house. They told Meddaugh that Hunsher appeared "severely intoxicated" and was saying he wanted to end his own life, the deputy wrote.

Hunsher came out the front door wielding a 14-inch knife and told the deputy to leave his property.

Meddaugh asked Hunsher to put the knife down.

"I'm not going to put this knife down until you . . . kill me or get off my property," Hunsher said. "I want to die. There's no reason for me to live any longer."

Five more deputies arrived, two with stun guns and one with a "bean bag" shotgun. Hunsher told them to stay back and told one of the deputies with a stun gun to point it at his forehead and shoot.

At that point, the reports say, Hunsher came toward the deputies and got to within 15 feet of Deputy Randy Boutwell, who fired his stun gun.

Hunsher remained standing, so Sgt. Gary Cosimi fired three bean bag rounds, striking Hunsher in the chest. Cpl. Robert Mitchell also fired his stun gun at Hunsher, who became incapacitated.

An ambulance took Hunsher to Community Hospital. A spokeswoman would not release his condition Sunday, but the Sheriff's Office report said Hunsher was awake and cooperative afterward.

Inside the house, deputies found shattered glass, two broken chairs, knife marks in the wall and the phone ripped from the wall, the report says.

Victim advocates and child abuse investigators also responded to the scene.

No one else was injured, including Hunsher's three young children, whose names and ages were not released. Only one child was home during the incident.

His wife, 21-year-old Melissa Hunsher, was working at the time. She could not be reached Sunday, but a sheriff's report said she planned to seek shelter with her children away from the house.

Records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reveal show Hunsher was charged in 1999 in a traffic incident involving alcohol or drugs. He pleaded no contest.

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