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Lake Placid Man Charged with Murder in Shooting of Highlands County Deputy


A Highlands County Sheriff’s deputy is dead and a Lake Placid man is in jail after a dispute that investigators said was touched off by a cat.

According to deputies, Deputy William J. Gentry Jr. was dispatched to a Lake Placid neighborhood by a resident who accused a neighbor of shooting his cat. After Gentry made contact with the complainant, he proceeded to the home of Joseph Edward Ables, the man whom the complainant accused of firing the shot.

Per the authorities, the 40-year-old deputy approached the home of the 69-year-old Ables, intending to question him about the allegation. However, they say before Gentry could address a query to him, Ables produced a firearm and shot Gentry in the head.

Gentry was transported to a local hospital for treatment, while more deputies arrived at Ables’ residence, ultimately taking him into custody.

Gentry, a veteran member of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department, survived the night, but recovery from the wound proved impossible, as he expired early the next afternoon.

Ables, who has prior felony convictions, was booked into the Highlands County Jail on charges of first-degree murder, felon in possession, resisting an officer with violence, violating probation, and destruction of evidence. He is being held without bond.

The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand have been representing people charged with capital murder, felony drug charges, drunk driving, government fraud, and white-collar crimes for over a quarter century. Contact our office today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area state or federal charges.


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