Weirsdale, FL – A retired Citrus County sheriff’s deputy was murdered by a convicted felon while working as a propane deliveryman last week, according to police.
Steven Smolensky, 52, served the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) for 25 years prior to his retirement in 2017, WFTV reported.
He later went to work for Suburban Propane, delivering propane to customers’ homes.
Smolensky was making a delivery at a residence on Southeast 180th Street on Nov. 30 when a resident confronted him at gunpoint shortly before 9:45 a.m., according to police.
Police said the resident, later identified as 38-year-old Steven Alan Swearingen, refused to allow the retired deputy to leave his property and held him at gunpoint before abruptly shooting him to death, WFTV reported.
Swearingen allegedly told investigators he killed Smolensky because he believed he had come to “fill the home with propane,” according to investigators.
He was arrested on charges of false imprisonment, second-degree murder, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, WFTV reported.
Swearingen was booked into the Marion County Jail and is being held without bail.
Investigators said he has an extensive criminal history.
Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast confirmed the retired deputy’s death in a Facebook post on Dec. 1.
“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I inform our community of the murder of retired CCSO Deputy Sheriff Steve Smolensky,” Sheriff Prendergast wrote. “Yesterday, officials from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office arrested 38-year-old Steven Alan Swearingen for Steve’s murder which occurred earlier that day. We would like to commend our counterparts there at MCSO for quickly apprehending this suspect before another tragedy unfolded.”
The highly-decorated deputy served in multiple divisions of the CCSO during his years of service, and was assigned to the Judicial and Juvenile Services Division at the time of his retirement.
“We will keep the Smolensky family in our thoughts and prayers,” Sheriff Prendergast wrote.
Marion County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Paul Bloom said the retired deputy’s murder is a tragedy, WTVT reported.
“For someone to survive 25 years in law enforcement, come through that, serve the community well… and then to be tragically killed in a situation like this, it’s very heartbreaking,” Sgt. Bloom said.
Suburban Propane said Smolensky “will be deeply missed by the customers he served, the team he worked alongside, and the entire Suburban Propane family,” WTVT reported.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” the company added.
Smolensky leaves behind his wife, two daughters, and his stepson, according to his obituary.
He is also survived by his parents, sister, niece, nephew, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and many friends.