Ruskin, FL – Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Deputy Christopher Former died by suicide on Wednesday night, according to his department.
One of the 49-year-old deputy’s family members contacted the HCSO 911 Center shortly after 7 p.m. Dec. 29 and told the operator that Deputy Former had threatened suicide in a phone call, the sheriff’s office said in a press release on Thursday.
HCSO deputies responded to Deputy Former’s Mira Lago home and spoke with him briefly before the veteran deputy barricaded himself inside the residence.
Attempts to convince Deputy Former to exit the home peacefully were unsuccessful.
At approximately 11 p.m., SWAT officers entered the residence and found Deputy Former dead from an “apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the HCSO said in the press release.
“My deepest condolences go out to Deputy Former’s family and those that knew and loved him,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the press release. “While this is a very difficult time for our Sheriff’s Office family, it is times like this where we rely on each other and the community for support. Together we will grieve and try to make sense of what happened.”
Deputy Former served the HCSO for 23 years and was most recently assigned to the Ruskin area as a community resource deputy.
“He was a guardian at heart,” longtime friend John-Michael Elms told the Tampa Bay Times. “He wanted to protect people from those bad things out there and I think he did it wonderfully for over 20 years.”
“You go into that profession because you want to help people, and what I saw of him on the job, he never developed that stereotypical cynicism that some do in those kinds of jobs,” Elms added “He always looked for the best in people.”
In addition to his service as a law enforcement officer, Deputy Former was also a U.S. Army veteran, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
He leaves behind two grown children, Elms said.
It is with great sadness that we share, earlier this evening Deputy Christopher Former, 49, took his own life at his home.
— HCSO (@HCSOSheriff) December 30, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Christopher Former, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.