An off-duty Pinellas County sheriff's deputy died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound early Saturday morning, authorities said.
At about 1:07 a.m., Carlos Felipez, 46, was found dead in his backyard by deputies responding to a call about a gunshot at his home in unincorporated Clearwater. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said in a release that it is treating Felipez' death as a suicide.
Felipez was hired by the sheriff's office in 2014. He served in the Patrol Operations Bureau.
Before his stint with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Felipez served with the St. Petersburg Police Department from December 2003 until February 2014.
In September, Deputy Felipez made news when he helped rescue an injured bald eagle. Other details about his service with the police department and sheriff's office were not available Saturday.
Sgt. Spencer Gross, a spokesman with the Pinellas Sheriff's office, said that the office offers a number of mental health services to distressed employees. The office has a qualified crisis incident stress management team trained to intervene when a deputy appears to be in trouble.
Deputies may also seek help from the office's employee assistance program, to which they can confidentially discuss personal problems.
Felipez is the third Tampa Bay-area first responder suspected to have died by suicide this month.
On Dec. 19, St. Petersburg Fire Rescue firefighter Todd Rosenberger, 40, was found dead of an apparent suicide.
That same day, Terry L. Strawn, 58, a veteran of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, shot his wife, Theresa; daughter, Courtney, and granddaughter Londyn before dying by suicide.
If you are struggling this holiday season or you believe a loved one may be, resources are available to you. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Press 1.
Text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.
Contact Kirby Wilson at email@example.com or 727-8938793. Follow @kirbywtweets.