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Man shot by Hernando deputies was a struggling disabled veteran, ex-wife says

WEEKI WACHEE — The man whom Hernando County sheriff's deputies shot Thursday inside his home was a disabled veteran struggling with injuries he suffered while serving in the military, his former wife said.

"He was in really bad chronic pain from several different health issues from Agent Orange in Vietnam," Patricia Schlosser, Joseph Schlosser's wife of 34 years, said Friday. The two were divorced in January 2014, she said.

"He was a good man, but he was suffering," Patricia Schlosser said.

The incident that resulted in Joseph Schlosser's death started about 1 p.m. Thursday when a health care worker called 911 to report Schlosser was suicidal, the Sheriff's Office said.

The worker, who was not in the home when the officers arrived, said Schlosser, 69, had weapons in the house, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputy James Devorak and Sgt. Gisele Dunn responded to Schlosser's home on Ridge Top Loop in the Enclave subdivision of Woodland Waters, north of Weeki Wachee.

The officers first used "less lethal means" to try to take Schlosser into custody, the Sheriff's Office said. What provoked the deputies to resort to lethal force remained unclear Friday. Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Denise Moloney would not say what led to the fatal shooting, or whether Schlosser — a police officer in Illinois during the 1970s after the war — was armed.

The last time Patricia Schlosser saw her former husband, in September 2015, he was in a wheelchair, she said. In his later years, Patricia Schlosser said, he had become an enthusiastic gun collector.

Moloney said more information would be available after completion of an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is often called upon by local agencies to investigate deputy-involved shootings.

Devorak, 58, who has been with the Sheriff's Office since 2008, was trained in crisis intervention, the Sheriff's Office said. Dunn, 35, who has been with the agency since 2003, was also trained in crisis intervention and advanced de-escalation training, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Neither officer was hurt. Both were placed on paid leave until the investigation is complete, which is standard procedure.

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

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