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Sheriff: Dunedin man shot, killed family dog, threatened family

David Wheeler, 71, faces two counts of aggravated assault, one count of animal cruelty and one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
Published Jul. 5, 2018

DUNEDIN — A 71-year-old man was arrested Thursday after the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said he shot and killed the family dog, threatened to shoot his wife and son and then pointed a handgun at a deputy.

David Wheeler faces two counts of domestic aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a law enforcement officer and one count of animal cruelty.

Deputies gave this account of Wednesday's incident: Just before 6 p.m., deputies were sent to a home on the 1000 block of Suemar Road after a caller said they heard arguing and gunfire from the residence there. The deputies who arrived said they heard a man yelling inside.

First, deputies asked David Wheeler's wife and son to leave the residence. Barbara Wheeler, 68, and son, Ryan Wheeler, 32, left the home and told deputies that inside the residence, David Wheeler was armed and had fatally shot their dog.

The wife also told deputies her husband threatened to kill her and pointed a .45-caliber handgun at her. When the son stepped in to intervene, Ryan Wheeler told deputies, his father turned the gun on him and also threatened to shoot himself.

Deputies were trying to talk to David Wheeler when they said they saw him point a handgun through the front window at a deputy outside. After a 9½-hour standoff, deputies said, they persuaded him to surrender about 3:35 a.m. He was then arrested.

David Wheeler was taken to the Pinellas County Jail, where he was being held Thursday without bail. He was to undergo a mental health evaluation, the Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies also said they seized several rifles, shotguns and handguns from the home. The investigation continues.

Contact Justin Trombly at jtrombly@tampabay.com. Follow @JustinTrombly.

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