One dead in IRC deputy involved shooting

Michael Kifer
Michael Kifer

A man who was shot by a deputy after making threats of suicide has died at the Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, according to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.

During the early evening hours of Friday, November 1, 2019, deputies responded to a home in the 1100 block of 35th Avenue SW. Deputies had already been to the home on two previous occasions this same evening to address Michael Kifer (29), who was intoxicated and/or under the influence of drugs. During this response, deputies learned that Kifer was armed with a knife and had made threats by phone to harm another individual.

When deputies arrived, Kifer fled on foot from the home. A short time later, he reappeared with a small hatchet. Again, deputies gave chase, at which time he fled into his residence.

Deputies confirmed no other people were inside of the home. Multiple attempts were made to contact Kifer inside of the home with no response.

The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team and Crisis Negotiations Team (CNT) were activated and called to the scene. The front door of the home was breached as deputies continued to attempt to make contact with Kifer from outside. Deputies observed motion in the southeast bedroom, which family confirmed was a room belonging to Kifer. SWAT breached the window to the room at which time Kifer was seen holding a small sword with a blade approximately 12 inches long. Kifer was shouting at deputies, “Shoot me!” along with other profanities.

SWAT fired four beanbag rounds at Kifer, which had no effect on him. He continued to move around inside of the home armed with the sword, popping out occasionally to shout at deputies. As he stepped outside of a side door, a deputy deployed a taser, which also did not have any effect on Kifer. Shortly thereafter, Kifer ran out of the home, armed with the sword. SWAT and deputies followed him giving commands for him to drop the sword and comply. Kifer again stated, “Shoot me!”

Two more taser cartridges were fired at Kifer which did not faze him. Kifer then charged at a deputy at which time the deputy fired one shot, striking Kifer. SWAT medics immediately provided medical support as Indian River County Fire Rescue responded from a nearby staging location. Kifer was transported by ground to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries in the early morning hours of November 2, 2019.

Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar stated, “Our deputies deployed four less-lethal beanbag rounds and four taser cartridges in an attempt to take Kifer into custody without incident. None of these had any effect on Kifer. He was set on committing suicide by law enforcement last night and he forced our hand where we had to take action. These are unfortunate situations but we are proud of the work of the brave men and women of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office who did their best last night to bring this very dangerous situation to a resolution.”

The deputy who discharged his weapon was placed on paid administrative leave which is standard protocol for incidents such as this. An autopsy and toxicology will be performed as part of the investigation. The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Assistant State Attorney and State Attorney Investigator were on scene assisting detectives and crime scene with the investigation. A search warrant of the home was conducted early this morning.

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges grew up in Jupiter, Florida where he began his career in radio and TV broadcasting for over 12 years. He would make a career change to computer programming. Andy spent seven years working for tech companies in Atlanta before moving to Indian River County in 2002. He returned to the news sector in 2005 as a writer. Andy joined Sebastian Daily in 2016 as our editor in chief.