Statement of St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara regarding the Jan. 14 incident
Here is St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara's statement:
I would like to begin by saying anytime there is a death in our community, we all mourn. My deepest sympathies go out to the Hill family during this difficult time.
Yesterday afternoon, at approximately 3:15 deputies responded to 1501 Avenue Q in response to an obscene loud music call. The call was from a parent sitting in the student pick up line of Frances K Sweet Elementary school waiting to pick up her child. The caller stated the music was coming from a residence across the street with the garage door open and big speakers blasting I quote “F-U music so all the kids can hear it”.
Two uniformed deputies were dispatched to the residence and immediately heard the loud music playing, coming from the now closed garage area. The deputies knocked on the front door but got no response. They then knocked on the garage door and the door opened. As the garage door opened, they saw a black male holding a handgun at his right side. Deputies ordered the male to drop the gun. Instead of complying with the deputies’ commands, the male raised the gun toward the deputies as he simultaneously pulled the garage door closed.
Fearing for their lives, one of the deputies fired his handgun multiple times at the subject. The bullets penetrated the garage door and as we now know, struck the subject.
At the time, neither deputy knew for sure if the subject was struck, so a perimeter was immediately established and the SWAT and Crisis Negotiations Team were called. Early information received indicated there was also possibly a mentally handicapped child inside the residence with the subject. We were eventually able to locate the child, who was at another location.
We also received information from a man claiming to be the subject’s uncle. This man told investigators he had spoken with the subject on the telephone during the event and that he was alive and uninjured, but afraid to come out.
Throughout the event, attempts were made to establish communication with the individual by telephone and with a loudspeaker, but no contact was made. The SWAT team then deployed chemical agents into the residence.
After still receiving no response, a remote controlled camera was inserted through the garage door and we were able to see a male lying on the garage floor, just inside the garage door. The SWAT team quickly entered the residence where the male was found deceased, caused by multiple gunshot wounds. The entire event lasted just under four hours.
We have identified the subject as 30-year-old Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr. of Fort Pierce. His criminal history shows multiple arrests including drugs, thefts, driving related offenses, obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct charges. Mr. Hill was also currently on probation for cocaine possession.
The deputies involved are Deputy Christopher Newman and Deputy Edward Lopez. Deputy Newman has been employed by the Sheriff’s Office since October, 2013. His previous law enforcement experience includes four years as a law enforcement officer with the State of Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation, Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco and ten years as a police officer with the City of Ft. Pierce. He has no discipline in his personnel file.
Deputy Lopez has been employed by the Sheriff’s Office for since May, 2004. He began his career as a detention deputy and in September, 2009, transferred to the patrol division. The only discipline in Deputy Lopez’ file is a reprimand for failing to report for an off-duty detail.
As is customary with officer involved shootings, both deputies are on paid administrative leave while a thorough investigation is being conducted. That investigation includes assistance from the State Attorney’s Office as well as the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. An autopsy is being conducted tomorrow.
This was a tragedy. Although the investigation is in it’s early stages and ongoing, this investigation will be an open book. As more facts become available during this investigation, we will share them with our community and with the Hill family.
I would also like to ask anyone who may have witnessed this event please contact our Criminal Investigations Division at 772-462-3230.
Click on Image for Full Size
Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.