Key Largo, FL – Monroe County sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a commercial airline pilot who pointed a gun at them on Key Largo on Wednesday morning during a mental health crisis.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) initially told reporters that 48-year-old Lane Morgan Caviness was “an off-duty federal law enforcement officer” after he was shot by deputies on Aug. 10, The Washington Post reported.
But the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FLDLE) later clarified that Caviness was a pilot who was a member of the Transportation Safety Administration’s (TSA) Federal Flight Deck Officer Program.
The program deputizes and arms pilots and flight crew members of passenger and cargo aircraft to defend against acts of criminal violence or air piracy, The Washington Post reported.
Officials said the incident began when deputies responded to the Key Largo Ocean Resort for a report of an armed and suicidal man, WTVJ reported.
Deputies arrived on the scene and spotted the armed man, but then Caviness went back inside his residence.
The sheriff’s department told reporters that deputies were able to reach the suspect on the telephone and Caviness told them “he had a gun and he was intoxicated and that he was ready for battle,” according to WTVJ.
Officials said Caviness reappeared on his balcony moments later and pointed his gun at deputies.
Deputies opened fire and fatally shot him, WTVJ reported.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay that he had asked the state to investigate the deputy-involved shooting, WTVJ reported.
“Although this appears to be a suicide-by-cop situation, as I always do in such cases, I have asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct an independent investigation into this matter,” Sheriff Ramsay said.
Rafael Pariente, a neighbor and friend of Caviness, said the said the late pilot was an involved father and boating enthusiast, WTVJ reported.
“It’s a sad day for all of us because he was a great guy,” Pariente said.
He said Caviness’ girlfriend had recently broken off a long-term relationship with him and his friend had been drinking.
Officials have not said which airline Caviness worked for, WTVJ reported.