Florida deputy shot, killed by man accused of shooting cat, officials say

A sheriff’s deputy in Highlands County, Florida, died Monday after authorities said he was shot in the head by a man who was accused of shooting a cat.

Update 2:55 p.m. EDT May 7: Sheriff's deputies confirmed on Twitter that Deputy William Gentry Jr., 40, died just after 1 p.m. Monday after he was shot while responding to a call.

“Please keep his family and our HCSO family in your prayers,” deputies said in the tweet.

Authorities arrested Joseph Edward Ables, 69, on suspicion of shooting Gentry. He faces charges including possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, resisting an officer with violence and tampering with evidence violation of probation.

Original report: A Highlands County, Florida, deputy is in critical condition after he was shot as he responded to a call, authorities said.

Deputy William Gentry responded to a call Sunday about a neighbor possibly shooting a cat in a Lake Placid community on Baltimore Way, officials said.

When Gentry approached the neighbor, Joseph Edward Ables, 69, at his front door, Ables pulled a gun on the deputy, shooting him in the head, deputies said.

>> Read more trending news

Gentry, 40, was flown to Lee Memorial Hospital.

Investigators said they are familiar with Ables. He is a convicted felon and has a violent history toward officers, including a recent battery charge on a law enforcement officer, officials said.

“We ask that you continue to pray for Deputy Gentry, and hopefully, that will give him the strength to pull through this,” Highland County Sheriff Paul Blackman said.

>> Watch the news conference below

Gentry has been working for the Sheriff's Office for more than nine years.

Ables was arrested at the scene and taken to the Highlands County Jail, where he remains without bail.

Ables is charged with attempted first-degree murder without premeditation, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, resisting an officer with violence, and tampering with evidence violation of probation.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.