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Community Mourns Slain Deputy


UPDATE: 6:00PM 9/23/15

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s shooting death of Deputy Bill Myers the OCSO has been inundated by the shear volume of the community’s desire to show their support.  The outpouring of affection and admiration for Deputy Myers, who died while protecting and serving the community he treasured has been remarkable.  

A Memorial Service in honor of Deputy Bill Myers has been scheduled for Monday, September 28th at 11am inside the Raider Arena at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville. The service will be open to the public. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the “Make a Wish Foundation” in Deputy Myers’ memory.

Another way the community is showing their love and support is with a makeshift memorial that has been erected in Shalimar in between the Dollar General store and the Cotton and Gates Law Firm on Plew Avenue. Handwritten notes and signs, balloons, bouquets of flowers, candles, and American flags adorn a pole on the street in honor of Deputy Myers’ ultimate sacrifice as well as serving as a reminder to Myers’ family, the OCSO, and community members that he will not be forgotten.

Deputy Myers fulfilled his mission as an OCSO deputy by ensuring fair and equal administration of the law, by safeguarding civil liberties and preserving public safety, and doing it with professionalism and purpose while earning the public’s trust.

Family members, residents, city officials as well as those that worked with Deputy Myers are grieving the loss of a man that upheld everything the Okaloosa County community strives to be. Public Information Officer for OCSO Michele Nicholson said “Deputy Myers was a jewel of a human being who always stopped in with a smile on his face.”

Additionally, in response to numerous requests from the community on ways to help to contribute and assist Myers’ family and the law enforcement community in general, the OCSO is providing information on two non-profit organizations the community can make donations to, the OCSO Star Charities and OLEBA, the Okaloosa Law Enforcement Benevolent Association in which donations can be specifically earmarked for the Myers family. 

The OCSO Sheriff’s Star is dedicated to assisting the employees of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office with unplanned life changing events.  Donations are tax-deductible: mail or deliverer to 50 2nd Street, Shalimar, Fl. 32579 or online at http://www.sheriff-okaloosa.org/resources/ocso-sheriffs-star-charities/ And, donations to the OLEBA can be made at any branch of Beach Community Bank or can be dropped off at the OCSO Administration Building in Shalimar.

Furthermore, several Go Fund Me sites have been established on Facebook in hopes of raising money to help ensure Deputy Myers’ young granddaughter gets to go to Disneyworld.

Deputy Bill Myers, lived in Shalimar and is survived by his wife, Jan, and three sons, Sean, Eric, and Adam.

Credit Lamar Advertising / OCSO

A long time veteran of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office who recently rejoined the department part-time died Tuesday afternoon following an early morning shooting in Shalimar. WUWF’s Danielle Freeman reports.

64-year old Deputy Bill Myers retired from the OCSO in November 2013 after nearly 25 years with the agency. However, in January 2015, Myers rejoined the force on a part-time basis to aid with civil processing.

I can’t say enough good things about Deputy Myers. And so, I won’t attempt to tell you the good things about that man.”

That’s Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley, clearly distraught while speaking at a press conference about the shooting and tragic loss of a fellow law enforcement officer.

Deputy Myers just finished serving a domestic violence injunction to 33-year old Joel Dixon Smith at the Cotton and Gates Law Firm on Plew Avenue in Shalimar around 8:20am. According to the OCSO, while walking outside to confiscate firearms from the suspect’s black truck, Deputy Myers was shot from behind multiple times including a gunshot wound to the rear of his head.  Myers was rushed to FWB Medical Center in critical condition and underwent surgery. However, he died from his injuries at 2:14pm Tuesday afternoon.  While speaking to a crowd at OCSO headquarters, Sheriff Ashley said Deputy Myers was a family man and will sorely be missed,

He was dedicated. He was a professional. He was committed to this thing we call law enforcement. He was committed to the people. He was retired. And, he came back and worked part time to earn a little extra spending money to take his granddaughter to Disney World. That’s what he loved to do. He loved Disneyworld and he loved his granddaughter.”

After reportedly shooting Deputy Myers, Smith drove to the Comfort Inn at 148 John Sims Parkway in Niceville where he was staying in room 205. Smith then barricaded himself inside.  The OCSO Special Response Team responded and evacuated the building, moving everyone across the street to KFC, and then setting up a perimeter.  During the press conference Tuesday afternoon, Okaloosa County Sheriff, Larry Ashley said no members of the SRT Unit were injured but, the almost two hour standoff was intense, The next hour and 45 minutes were sporadic phone calls and contacts with the suspect, family members and negotiators.  At 10:15am tear gas was introduced into the hotel room and within minutes the subject exited the room brandishing a hand gun and was engaged by our SRT members. The subject was shot multiple times where our SRT medics rendered aid then subsequently transported suspect Smith to FWB Medical Center where he expired while being worked on there.”

Investigators say the suspect in the shooting was identified as Joel Dixon Smith. However, very few details are known about the suspect. Smith’s last known address is 1477 Oak Mont Place in Niceville. He is a father of an 8 month old child and according to OCSO he is believed to have been employed by the post office in Niceville. In addition, Smith was previously arrested in April 2008 by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office for domestic battery.

The coordination efforts from various agencies in the area since the incident began has been tremendous says Sheriff Ashley and the community should be proud, “Professionalism was certainly displayed today on multiple fronts. The outpouring of support and grief, we are so fortunate and so blessed to live in this community.”

Sheriff Ashley also says he will not politicize the event but, does plan to address the issue of “how we got here” in the future, So, I ask everybody to remember the family and the family alone during this time of grief. There’ll be plenty of time for the politics. But, not now, now is not the time.”

“Deputy Myers has been a treasured part of this agency’s family since 1989,” said Sheriff Larry Ashley. “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.”

Final arrangements for Deputy Bill Myers are still being made at this time but, the OCSO will inform the community as soon they are finalized.