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Two Hillsborough County deputies found dead in St. Augustine vacation rental

A preliminary investigation shows that Daniel Leyden, a detective working in the Criminal Investigations Division, was the only shooter, and that he shot himself and the other deputy.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jan. 30, 2022|Updated Feb. 3, 2022

Editor’s note: This story includes discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline.org, or call the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay by dialing 2-1-1.

ST. AUGUSTINE — A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a fellow deputy and then himself, according to the agency.

“Tragically, the incident is being investigated as a murder-suicide,” a spokesperson for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said.

The deputies’ bodies were found early Sunday morning in a rental home in St. Augustine, which they had been sharing on vacation with fellow deputies.

Related: TUESDAY UPDATE: Hillsborough deputy slain in murder-suicide was ‘bright spot in a dark world’

The two deputies, who were in a romantic relationship, were heard arguing in a bedroom, the sheriff’s office reported. The sound of gunshots came soon after.

Both deputies were found dead with gunshot wounds.

“Our Sheriff’s Office family is still reeling from the shock of this unthinkable tragedy,” Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “My prayers for strength and comfort are with the families and loved ones of these deputies, and every member of Team HCSO affected by this painful loss.”

Related: People seen fleeing home before Hillsborough deputies’ murder-suicide there

A preliminary investigation has found that Daniel Leyden, a detective working in the Criminal Investigations Division, was the only shooter. The name of the victim, a deputy assigned to Uniform Patrol District III, was not released.

According to News4Jax, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 5300 block of A1A South in the Butler Beach area for a report of gunshots early Sunday morning.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. “This is an isolated incident and there is no threat to the public,” the spokesperson said.

Related: Cross-state procession held for Hillsborough deputy shot to death on vacation

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Peer Support Team is providing resources to colleagues and families in need.

Sheriff Chronister urged any Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office employee to seek help from the agency’s resources like the Peer Support Team, chaplains or a clinical psychologist if they are in a crisis.

How to get help

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. The Florida Coalition of Domestic Violence can be reached at 800-500-1119. There are local agencies in the Tampa Bay area to reach out to for help.

In Hillsborough County you can call or text The Spring of Tampa Bay’s 24-hour crisis line at 813-247-7233 or visit online at thespring.org.

In Pinellas County you can call the Community Action Stops Abuse 24-hour hotline at 727-895-4912, text casa-stpete.org/chat or visit casapinellas.org.

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In Pasco County, you can contact Sunrise of Pasco County at its 24-hour hotline at 1-888-668-7273 or 352-521-3120, or go online at www.sunrisepasco.org.

This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.