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Polk County man shoots himself, is shot twice more by deputy

James Busch, 53, is in “extremely critical condition" after he shot himself in the head, then was shot twice in the arms by a responding deputy.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. [TMCCARTY | times staff]
Published Oct. 5

WINTER HAVEN — A Polk County man was gravely injured Friday after he shot himself in the head then was twice shot by a deputy who said the man refused to drop his gun when ordered, the Sheriff’s Office said.

James Busch, 53, remained in “extremely critical condition” at a Polk County hospital on Saturday evening, the Sheriff’s Office said. He sustained the life-threatening injuries from the self-inflicted gunshot, which was fired from a .357-caliber Magnum revolver, the agency said.

The initial shooting took place at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday. Minutes later, deputies responding to a 911 call from Busch’s ex-girlfriend arrived at his home, located at 830 Hyland Ave. in Winter Haven. When they reached the front door of the home, the deputies said they saw Busch sitting in a recliner, still conscious and still holding the gun.

The deputies ordered Busch to drop his weapon multiple times, but he refused, the Sheriff’s Office said. Then Busch began to raise the gun from his lap, holding it in both hands as he cocked the hammer, the agency said.

Fearing for the safety of those at the scene, a deputy then fired two shots at Busch, intentionally striking him once in the right arm and once in the left hand, the Sheriff’s Office said. The blows caused Busch to drop the gun, and the deputies quickly attempted to perform life-saving measures until paramedics arrived to take him to a nearby hospital.

The Sheriff’s Office has not released the name of the deputy who shot Busch, nor have they identified the other deputies at the scene or Busch’s ex-girlfriend. She wasn’t injured in the shooting but suffered an anxiety attack and also was taken to the hospital.

The woman told deputies that Busch was drinking whiskey when she arrived at his home that night to get her dog, a news release from the Sheriff’s Office said. An argument broke out between the two and quickly escalated when Busch locked the home’s entry gate and yelled “You’re not going anywhere,” the release said. The woman told deputies that Busch beat her and put a gun to her chin, threatening to kill her. She told the deputies she feared that Busch would either kill her or himself as he continued to pace around the home, drinking whisky and asking her why she didn’t love him.

At one point, deputies said the woman was able to call Busch’s brother on the phone. Busch spoke with his brother, then handed the phone back to the woman, positioned his gun under his chin and shot himself.

“It is unfortunate that James Busch chose to gravely injure himself and threaten to kill his ex-girlfriend,” Sheriff’ Grady Judd said in a statement. “I am pleased that our deputies who put themselves at extreme risk to render aid to Mr. Busch were not injured."

Deputies are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting, but the Sheriff’s Office said Saturday that Busch will face multiple felony charges should he survive.

The deputy who shot Busch was placed on administrative leave with pay as standard protocol until further investigations are completed.

The Sheriff’s homicide unit will conduct its own investigation into the shooting, followed by independent investigations by the State Attorney’s Office and the agency’s administrative investigations division.

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