Deputies Shoot Pilot After Florida Confrontation

Sheriff says it appears to have been 'suicide by cop'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 11, 2022 10:25 AM CDT

In what appears to be a "suicide by cop," deputies in the Florida Keys fatally shot a pilot who was deputized to carry guns on planes, officials say. Lane Morgan Caviness, 48, was killed at a Key Largo home Wednesday following reports of an intoxicated, armed suicidal man, a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office news release said. The sheriff's office had initially identified Caviness as an "off-duty federal law enforcement officer." The Florida Department of Law Enforcement later clarified that Caviness was part of the TSA's Federal Flight Deck Officer Program, which allows armed pilots and flight crew members of passenger and cargo aircraft to defend against acts of criminal violence or air piracy, the AP reports.

Multiple deputies had responded and observed an armed man at the home, officials said. Deputies were able to reach Caviness by phone after he dropped a gun and disappeared from view. He told deputies he was intoxicated and was prepared to confront law enforcement, officials said. Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay tells WPLG that Caviness said he was "ready for battle." Ramsay says the man reappeared on a balcony with an AR-15-style rifle and "pointed it at the officers at which time the officers had no other choice but to engage him."

"Four of my officers, detectives, and deputies discharged their firearms at him," the sheriff says. Deputies began first aid, but the man was pronounced dead. Ramsay said in the sheriff's office news release that "although this appears to be a suicide by cop situation," state law enforcement officials will conduct an independent investigation of the shooting. Officials did not immediately disclose who the pilot worked for. (More Florida stories.)

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