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Not arrested in 2014 shooting death, Hernando County man faces gun charge

Published Mar. 24, 2016

RIDGE MANOR — A man who accidentally shot and killed a pregnant woman in 2014 while twirling a revolver was arrested Saturday after authorities say he repeatedly fired a gun in a reckless manner.

William Matthew DeHayes of Ridge Manor, who turned 37 on March 17, drunkenly fired a shotgun into the air several times while standing on his front lawn on the night of his birthday, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. He was charged with discharging a firearm in public, a misdemeanor.

In July 2014, DeHayes, who was living in Brooksville at the time, accidentally shot a friend's wife in the head while showing them a "Western-style" trick, twirling a loaded gun around his finger. He told police that he didn't think the gun was loaded.

Katherine Hoover, 25, of Inverness was rushed to the hospital, where she died early the next morning. She was five months pregnant with a child the couple planned to name Rehlin, who was surgically removed from his dying mother in an attempt to save his life but lived about 30 minutes.

Authorities ruled the shooting an accident and decided not to charge DeHayes with a crime.

This time around nobody was hurt.

On Thursday night, several neighbors called 911 after seeing or hearing DeHayes fire shots in front of his single-wide mobile home at 4335 Cimarron Way, about 20 yards from his neighbor's house, according to a Sheriff's Office incident report.

When deputies arrived around 9:45 p.m., they found DeHayes drinking a bottle of beer and showing signs of intoxication.

"I asked William how much he had to drink today and he stated he could not keep count," a responding deputy wrote in an incident report. "He stated he had been drinking alcohol since 12 noon and had been drinking beer and Crown Royal straight from the bottle."

DeHayes told deputies he was going to teach his girlfriend's 16-year-old daughter how to shoot.

"William bragged that he knew how to handle firearms and had been shooting guns all his life," the deputy noted in the report.

It was a line Donna Bryan, Hoover's mother, heard back in 2014.

"I don't think he has any training with guns, to be honest with you," she said. "And then to think he's going to teach a 16-year-old kid how to shoot a gun, when you live in a trailer park and everybody's houses are right on top of each other."

DeHayes acknowledged that the projectiles would fall straight down after he fired into the air, "but showed no signs of concern for his neighbors or anyone else in the area," the report said.

Deputies found the gun — a pistol-grip, 12-gauge shotgun, according to the report — inside the mobile home.

Deputies sought an arrest warrant before taking DeHayes into custody. He was arrested Saturday and taken to the Hernando County jail, where he was released on $1,000 bail several hours later. Attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

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Bryan, who has been active in trying to get DeHayes prosecuted for her daughter and grandson's deaths, said when she heard about last week's incident she felt "upset, angry, furious, rage."

"He killed my daughter and my grandson," she said Wednesday. "They gave him back his guns, and he's out shooting up the town again. And I'm petrified he's going to kill someone else."

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or Follow @josh_solomon15.


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