TAMPA— Red and blue lights lit up Interstate 75 early Wednesday morning as patrol vehicles from various law enforcement agencies lined the road as the body of a fallen Highlands County Sheriff's deputy was transported to Brandon.
Deputy William Gentry was shot Sunday night while responding to a house call and died Monday afternoon. Law enforcement from across the state have reached out to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office to express their condolences.
Escort for Deputy Gentry as he leaves Lee Memorial Hospital bound for Tampa. pic.twitter.com/8AbF9cbPdd
Officers and deputies from those agencies showed their support during the two-hour trip as Gentry's body was escorted from Lee Memorial Hospital to LifeLink in Brandon.
Interstate 75 lined with lights to escort Deputy Gentry to Tampa for the next phase of the organ donation process. pic.twitter.com/BFgpqJ2UOu
Gentry was a registered organ and tissue donor. His organs were harvested at Lee Memorial Hospital, and his tissue is being harvested at LifeLink Foundation, according to Betsy Edwards, senior public affairs coordinator with LifeLink.
Edwards said Gentry will be able to impact the lives of 70 people through his tissue donations alone. Edwards also said Gentry's retinas were harvested, and will be donated to two people.
Later Wednesday morning, a processional led by Highlands and Hillsborough deputies transported Gentry's body to the Polk County Medical Examiners office, Edwards said.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Gentry was responding to a call in Lake Placid about a cat that had been shot.
The cat's owner told Gentry that neighbor Joseph Edward Ables, 69, was responsible. When Gentry went to Ables' house to question him, he shot Gentry in the head, deputies said.
Ables is a convicted felon with a history of violence toward law enforcement, jail records show. He was arrested and is being held at Highlands County Jail on charges including premeditated first-degree murder and possession of a weapon by a felon.