Deputy-involved shooting preliminary briefing

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SEBRING — This evening, Sept. 24, at approximately 9:17 p.m., deputies responded to 9133 Markland Lane in Sebring, Highlands County.  

Upon arrival. contact was made with a female subject named Kelly Townsend.  Deputies were interviewing Townsend inside the residence regarding an active warrant for her arrest.

During this interview, it was suspected a second subject named Matthew Nocerino, who also had an arrest warrant, was present at the residence as well.  The warrants for Matthew were felony warrants for burglary and grand theft.

While interviewing Ms. Townsend, Matthew Nocerino was seen walking through the residence.  The deputies gave Matthew the order to stop and come to them. Matthew started running away from the deputies through the house, and the deputies gave chase.

One of the deputies fired his issued Taser, striking Matthew in his left hip and waist area. Matthew continued to flee, running into what was described as a bedroom. Once inside the bedroom, Matthew produced a handgun, firing and striking a deputy in his ballistic vest.  

At 9:36 p.m., deputies advised dispatch shots fired. At that time. at least one deputy returned fire with his agency-issued weapon, striking Matthew several times.  

Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene at 9:44 p.m. and Matthew was pronounced deceased.  

The deputy who was hit was transported to our local hospital, where he has since been released with minor injuries, thanks to his agency-issued ballistic vest.  

Those deputies involved were relieved at the scene and placed on administrative leave per policy pending an independent investigation, which will be conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office.

The deceased, Matthew Nocerino, date of birth 11/11/1989, has served several stints in prison for violent charges one to include battery on a law enforcement officer. Townsend was taken to the Highlands County Jail and booked for her active warrants.

“At this time I would ask you to keep our deputies and the decedent’s family in your prayers,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said. “Again what I have reported is preliminary and based strictly on evidence we currently have access to.  This information could change as the investigation continues.”