Deputy Sheriff Bill Myers
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Florida
End of Watch: Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Tour of Duty: 26 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: September 22, 2015
Weapon Used: Handgun
Suspect Info: Shot and killed
Agency Contact Information
Sheriff Larry Ashley
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office
50 2nd Street
Shalimar, FL 32579
Phone: (850) 651-7410
Deputy Sheriff Bill Myers was shot and killed while serving a domestic violence injunction at a local attorney’s office on Plew Avenue, in Shalimar, at approximately 8:20 am.
He had served the papers on the subject and was leaving the office when the man opened fire from behind, striking him multiple times in the back and the back of the head.
The man fled to a local hotel where he barricaded himself in a room for approximately 90 minutes. He was shot and killed by members of the agency’s Special Response Team after exiting the room displaying a firearm.
Deputy Myers had served with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for a total of 26 years. He had retired from the agency after serving 25 years and then returned as a part-time deputy in January 2015 to assist with serving civil papers.
Tuesday was a tough day for Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley, as it fell on him to announce the death of 64-year-old Deputy Bill Myers.
"It’s a very sad day in our community. It’s a very sad day in our state. And it’s a sad day in our nation," Ashley said. "When you come to work expecting one thing and the world gets flipped upside down."
Ashley said Myers was a 25-year veteran of the force, whom lived a life dedicated to law enforcement, and ultimately his family.
"He was retired. He came back and he worked part-time, serving civil process, saving a little extra money to take his granddaughter to Disney World," Ashley said. "That’s what he loved to do. He loved Disney World and he loved his granddaughter. He will be sorely missed."
Ashley said the nightmare started when 33-year-old Joel Dixon Smith shot Myers multiple times in the back and head outside of an Attorney’s Office in Shalimar early Tuesday morning.
He said the Deputy had just served Smith a domestic violence injunction, which would have forced him to give up his firearms.
Smith then barricaded himself in a room at the Comfort Suites in Niceville. After attempts to get him to surrender, deputies threw tear gas into the room.
According to Ashley, Smith came out and exchanged gunfire with law enforcement. He was taken into custody but later died.
"He’s a coward," Ashley said. "He was fearful. Fearful of going to jail. Fearful of losing his firearms. Fearful of everything. He was just a sick little coward."
But as emotions were high among law enforcement, so was a rainbow, as it shined above the Sheriff’s Office with flags flying half-staff honoring a man taken too soon, leaving one magic kingdom for another.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Myers died at Ft. Walton Beach Medical Center just after 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon after undergoing surgery.
During his statement, Sheriff Ashley commended all law enforcement agencies that helped in the search for Smith, which included Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Fish and Wildlife.
According to Ashley, both the Walton and Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Offices have volunteered to help Okaloosa County during this time.
He says Myers’s service will be announced at a later date.
UPDATE: 4:00 p.m.
Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley has confirmed that Deputy Bill Myers has died from injuries in a morning shooting. The suspect is also dead.
Investigators say Myers had just finished serving a domestic violence injunction to 33-year old Joel Dixon Smith of Navarre at Cotton and Gates Law Firm on Plew Avenue around 8:20 a.m. Deputy Myers was walking outside when he was shot multiple times in the back, including a gunshot wound to the rear of his head.
Investigators say the suspect in the shooting, 33-year old Joel Dixon Smith of 9807 Navarre Parkway in Santa Rosa County, then drove to the Comfort Inn and Suites, 148 John Sims Parkway, in Niceville, where he barricaded himself inside a room.
The OCSO Special Response Team responded and evacuated the building, setting up a perimeter.
After an hour and a half of negotiations, the suspect came out of his room with a weapon at 11:13 a.m. Deputies responded and the suspect was struck and taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center where he later died. No members of the SRT Unit were injured.
Myers was a 25-year veteran of OCSO who had retired in 2013 then rejoined the force in January 2015 to work part-time.
Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley had this to say about Myers: “He served this community with distinction for decades. He was loved, admired, and respected for his dedication to the law enforcement profession. He loved photography and he had an ability to make those around him smile, especially his young granddaughter who he adored and took to Disney World as often as he could. We pray for his soul and for his family and we ask that the community pray for them as well, and for all the men and women who have the courage in these troubled times to put their lives on the line for others.”
“We also want to express our sincere gratitude to all of you who have reached out to our agency at this time with words and gestures of support, and to all the agencies which assisted us today at the scene of the shooting and in Niceville."