Our hearts are heavy as we heard and reported the events of the day – this day Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Myers was shot and killed in the line of duty. We heard the scanner traffic after the incident; perimeters being set up, a Comfort Inn being evacuated, command post being set up. We waited for an update on the deputy’s condition. He was listed as critical. We prayed for Deputy Myers and his family.
The word came down that Deputy Myers had passed away from his injuries. We began to dissect why something like this would or could happen. Who would take such an honorable and precious life? From the reports, Deputy Myers had retired from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department after serving nearly 25 years and was re-hired part-time as a process server.
Deputy Myers, by the account given, walked into an attorney’s office in Shalimar to simply serve a domestic violence injunction on Joel Dixon Smith of Navarre. Myers served the injunction and asked Smith about weapons he might have, which is routine. Smith told Deputy Myers he had weapons in his vehicle so they walked to his car to retrieve them. Smith then shot him several times in the back and in the back of the head. At what moment in time did Smith decide to shoot a deputy who had his back to him? In that moment did he realize he was killing a deputy and that at the end of the day, he was killing himself?
We can only imagine the grief of the family and the granddaughter mentioned who he took to Disney World so often. We can hope they are filled with great memories to comfort them.
As a community, it is even more important that we show our appreciation for our deputies that serve us in Santa Rosa County. They face danger every single day.
A traffic stop may not just be a traffic stop. The simplest call, like serving someone with papers, could end their life. And yet, they wake up and get ready to do their jobs.
Now, we must hold up our neighbor, Okaloosa County, so they can grieve and bury their own. We must stand shouldered with them and offer our support and condolences. Today they are part of our family.