Hillsborough County deputies shot and killed a knife-wielding man in Brandon Tuesday who had stabbed a cat before trying to break into a neighbor's apartment.
It all started around 5:30 a.m. at 3117 Bloomingdale Villas Court.
That's when the suspect, later identified by deputies as Lew G. Tyree II, allegedly set a pile of his clothes on fire and then walked down the block to an apartment where his neighbor, George Smith, lives.
Investigators said Tyree, 41, was carrying a large kitchen knife and a 20-pound barbell.
"I heard my mom in a panic banging on my room door," Smith told FOX 13. "He was like, 'where's my peeps at?' He was pacing back and forth. He starts to run towards the door. I slammed the door, locked it up."
Smith said as he called 911, Tyree was trying to break into his apartment, smashing a window and then slashing the tires of Smith's car.
"That's at 5 o'clock in the morning, it's very scary," Smith said.
Smith said he didn't know why Tyree was trying to break in or who he was looking for.
Deputies said when they arrived on the scene they asked Tyree to put the knife down, but he didn't. Deputies said they tried to use a Taser, but it didn't work.
Investigators say Tyree began acting aggressively toward them while still holding the knife and weight; he was within five feet of the deputies when they shot him multiple times.
The deputies involved have been put on standard paid administrative leave, pending the results of the investigation.
Neighbors who knew Tyree said he was quiet and kept to himself. Many were surprised to be woken by gunfire this morning.
"Really surprising. It's sad," Jose Vasallo said. "The neighborhood, I've been here for a few years and it's always been pretty quiet and it's just sad to hear that it escalated so bad."
Tyree was reportedly a Navy veteran. Neighbors said he had two children and was recently divorced.
He has been arrested three times in Hillsborough County, twice on battery charges.
Most neighbors, however, said they never saw a violent side.
"Any time we needed help or anything he was definitely right there to lend a hand," said Chakina Holland, Tyree's next door neighbor. "He was really nice, cordial person, but it's sad. You never know what people are going through."
"He had the greatest smile. If you think about it, it's hard to believe that he ended up in this tragedy," said Andrea Campbell, who also lives in the same apartment building as Tyree.
Deputies never found the cat that had been stabbed.
The three deputies involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, as part of standard sheriff's office procedure.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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