Hero Down: Highlands County Deputy William Gentry Murdered At Dispute Over Cat

A Highlands County deputy was fatally shot as he responded to a neighborhood dispute over a cat on Sunday.

Highlands County, FL – Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputy William Gentry was murdered as answered a call for assistance in the Lake Placid community on Sunday.

Deputy Gentry, a field training officer, responded to a dispute about a cat with the rookie he was training at about 8 pm on May 6, WTVT reported.

Once he found out what was going on, Deputy Gentry left his trainee with the complainant and went over to talk to Joseph Ables, the neighbor accused of shooting a cat.

Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman said that as soon as Deputy Gentry made contact with Ables, the 69-year-old man pulled out a gun and shot the deputy in the head, WTVT reported.

Deputy Gentry, 40, was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital in Ft. Meyers in critical condition. He succumbed to his injuries just after 1 pm on May 7.

“It is with tremendous sadness that I report that Deputy William J. Gentry Jr. passed away at 1:10 p.m. today, May 7, at Lee Memorial Hospital as a result of his injuries," Sheriff Blackman announced. "Please keep his family and our HCSO family in your prayers."

Ables was arrested at the scene and transported to the Highlands County Jail where he was held without bond, according to WFTV.

He was initially charged with attempted first-degree murder without premeditation, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, resisting an officer with violence, and tampering with evidence violation of probation.

His charges are expected to be upgraded now that Deputy Gentry has died.

Ables was no stranger to local law enforcement, WFTV reported.

Officials said that Deputy Gentry’s killer was a convicted felon with a violent history toward officers, including a recent battery charge on a police officer.

Sheriff Blackman said that Deputy Gentry had served with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office for more than eight years, and the fallen hero’s brother was also a deputy with the same department, WTVT reported.

Florida Governor Rick Scott released a statement of condolence for Deputy Gentry’s death.

“Each day, Florida’s brave men and women in law enforcement selflessly place the safety of others above their own. Today, my wife, Ann, and I join all Floridians in mourning the loss of another Florida hero, Deputy William Gentry, whose life has now been senselessly taken,” Scott wrote.

“Last night, I spoke with Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman and committed all available state resources they may need. We will not stand for anyone who hurts our law enforcement. I ask for all Floridians to pray for Deputy Gentry’s family and loved ones, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and all of our courageous law enforcement who go above and beyond every day to keep us safe,” the governor said in his statement.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputy William Gentry, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Deputy William Gentry, your life mattered.

Comments (13)
No. 1-13

Deputy William Gentry is now laying in the arms of God. My wish is that God will comfort the his brother, Deputy Kevin Gentry, his parents and his brother's and sister's in blue.

Words can't say how much shock I'm in about this crime. I can only hope all of you hold your family a little tighter and say I love you a little more often.


In cases such as this, a cut & dried conviction in which there is absolutely no doubt as to the guilt of the accused, the state should render an automatic death sentence, carried out in public. THAT would be a crime deterrent right there.


“Officials said that Deputy Gentry’s killer was a convicted felon with a violent history toward officers, including a recent battery charge on a police officer.”

And yet that monster was out on the streets, free to do this horrific thing. The shock, outrage, and disgust I feel is palpable.


Rest peacefully, Deputy Gentry, others have the watch from here.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

" absolutely no doubt as to the guilt of the accused . . ." We haven't heard from the accused, so don't know if there is doubt. At this point, I think it is likely he did it, but it is reckless and stupid to make up your mind before hearing the defendant's side of the story from the defendant, or through his lawyer. It is people like you, who are already convinced that they know what happened here, that people the death penalty from being a practical punishment alternative in this country.