Standoff Ends After Sheriff McKeithen Shoots Suspect

By: Morgan Kyrklund Email
By: Morgan Kyrklund Email
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PANAMA CITY-- A man who held local law enforcement at-bay for nearly two hours is still in critical condition at a hospital Tuesday night. Bay County Sheriff Frank Mckeithen shot 40-year-old Aaron Lepak Tuesday afternoon as the two were negotiating Lepak's surrender. The standoff happened around 3:00 p.m. at the Budget Inn off West Highway 98 and 15th Street.

Randy Fox owns Panama Fox Tattoos. His business is right across the street from the motel. He said, "When 15 cop cars showed up and the SWAT truck came, we all kinda got interested. We knew something big was going on. They [SWAT officers] started putting on bullet proof vests. There were a few guys that had army gear with helmets and rifles."

Bay County Sheriff's Deputies went to Lepak's hotel room to serve a search warrant. He's accused of severely beating his wife last week in Springfield leaving her paralyzed. "She remains in critical condition under medical care here locally at a hospital," Bay County Sheriff's Office PIO Ruth Corley said.

According to investigators, Lepak refused to come out his room. That's when the SWAT team was called in. Sheriff Frank McKeithen convinced Lepak to let him into the room. They talked for an hour and a half, but authorities say Lepak's demeanor suddenly changed. He became more and more aggravated, waving his gun in the air and threatening to take his own life. Corley said, "Mr. Lapak had threatened suicide. He was despondent and very angry. Sheriff McKeithen felt he needed to end that situation and he did shoot Mr. Lepak. Mr. Lepak, at this time, is believed to have discharged his firearm. The actual order of events and the minute details will be all available when the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concludes their investigation."

Investigators initially thought Lepak was dead, but paramedics were able to restore a pulse on the way to the hospital. At last word, Lepak was still in critical condition. McKeithen is on administrative leave, which is standard procedure for an officer-involved shooting. Florida Department of Law enforcement is handling the investigation.

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UPDATE Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.:

A man who held local authorities at-bay for nearly two hours is still alive and in the hospital in critical condition.

Bay County Sheriff's Officials initially reported Aaron Lepack was killed in a shoot-out with Bay County Sheriff's Frank McKeithen.

Deputies were trying to arrest Lepack on an outstanding domestic violence warrant.

Deputies say Lepack was wanted on aggravated battery on his wife, which sent her to a local hospital in critical condition.

The SWAT Team was called in and Frank McKeithen started negotiation talks to try to get him to surrender.
Investigators say he was becoming more and more aggravated waiving a gun in the air and threatening take his own life.

Again Lepack is at a local hospital in critical condition no one else was hurt in this SWAT standoff.

UPDATE Tuesday, 5:34 p.m.:

The standoff at the Budget Inn in Panama City ends with the Bay County Sheriff shooting the suspect.

Sheriff's officials tell us the standoff started a little before 3:00 pm and ended right before 5:00pm. They say the situation escalated to the point where the Sheriff had to fire his weapon.

The suspect is identified as Aaron Lepak. Deputies were trying to arrest Lepak on an outstanding domestic violence warrant.

Deputies say Lepak was wanted on an aggravated battery on his wife which sent her to a local hospital in critical condition. When deputies arrived to take Lepak into custody he reportedly threatened them.

"Mr. Lepak grew in agitation, his anger grew, his instability grew, he began to wave his gun around. Which meant that the level of acceptable danger was way out of whack," says Ruth Corley, Public Information Officer for the Bay County Sheriff's Office. " Sheriff McKeithen felt he needed to end that situation. He did shoot Mr. Lepak. Mr. Lepak, also believed at this time, he also shot his firearm and as to the exact order of events we will have to wait to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to come and look at the physical evidence and to interview everyone that has been involved, and present today, that saw this event."

Corley says the FDLE will continue the investigation throughout the evening. The suspect is being treated at a local hospital. She also says as first they thought the suspect was dead, and reported him deceased to media, but later realized he had a pulse. They say he is in very critical condition.

NewsChannel 7 will continue to update you with the latest information.

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UPDATE Tuesday, 4:23 p.m.: The standoff at the Budget Inn in Panama City started just before three Tuesday afternoon.

Bay County Sheriff's Deputies and SWAT officers are working to keep the situation calm right now.

Law enforcement is concentrating their efforts to one motel room in particular.

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There is a SWAT standoff on 15th and Isabella in Panama City.

As NewsChannel 7 learns more we will bring the information to you.


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