More Questions than Answers in Fatal Deputy-Involved Shooting Death of Spring Hill Man, Family Speaks Out
Last updated 12/15/2022 at 8:06am
SPRING HILL – An early morning deputy-involved shooting that claimed the life of 61-year-old Gary Schryver has left his family grieving and searching for answers.
It was 2:40 a.m. Saturday morning, when two deputies entered Schrvyer's home located at 12480 Feather Street to serve an arrest warrant. Shots rang out and schryver lie dying in front of his family. Officials with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office provided a brief statement on the shooting, but Sheriff Al Nienhuis has not held a press conference to discuss the details.
This morning, Kirk Schryver (Gary's 60-year-old brother) spoke to R News about the incident and says the tragedy could have been avoided if deputies had researched his brother's past before making entry.
During the interview, Kirk explained how the events transpired.
Kirk says, "they knocked on the door and my wife opened the door, and they came in looking for my brother Gary. Gary was coming out of the hallway and the cop said, 'let me see your hands,' but when he raised his hands the deputy shot him right in front of me." Kirk goes on to explain, "they said they thought he had a gun, which he had a flashlight in his hand. They shot him two feet from away, point blank."
Kirks says after shooting his brother, the two deputies turned around and ran out of the residence without rendering first aid.
According to our sources, the deputies called for backup and fire rescue to stage in the area until they could clear the house. Kirk explains, "about 20 minutes later there is a thousand cops out there, they made me lie on the street, they handcuffed me and then punched me in the kidney and shocked me with a stun gun. I don't know why he did that because I never put my hands on any officer. They took me and Richard (Richard Major, 55) to jail." Kirk says they detained his wife and sister in the back of a patrol car for several hours after the incident.
Kirk Schryver and Richard Major are both charged with simple assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.
According to Kirk, the hallway leading to the bedrooms were well-lit, and he says the deputy could easily see that Gary was holding a flashlight in his hand. He also questions why the deputy didn't try using less-than lethal, instead of deadly force. But the issue that causes the most grief for Kirk and his family is that the deputies did not render immediate aid to his brother.
Kirk says his brother has battled with mental illness for a long time. In recent weeks, Kirk called the Sheriff's Office to try and have his brother taken into protective custody on a Baker Act, but they told him Gary didn't meet the criteria.
In 2018, Gary was shot by a deputy while walking in the area of Marble Ave and Antelope Street with an object fashioned to look like a handgun. Gary survived his injuries in that shooting.
Kirk says he doesn't understand why two deputies would show up at 2:40 a.m. to serve a violation of probation warrant for a non-violent crime. According to records, Gary was wanted for violating probation on previous property crime charges. In addition, documents suggest Gary is a violent felony offender of special concern, but it is not known what led to those concerns.
I asked a current Hernando County Sheriff's Deputy, who wished to remain anonymous, if it is typical for only two deputies to serve a felony warrant at 2:40 a.m., knowing the suspect has a history of mental illness and had been shot by deputies before. He says, "It's not uncommon for that to happen; however, the totality of the circumstance would dictate the response level." He explains, "Knowing the history, I would have had a supervisor and at least five or six additional deputies with me. We would also hold a detailed briefing to determine if less than lethal should be used and how many people were in the residence. In this case, I would have waited until daylight and stood on it until he came out of the house." The deputy says, "Our main goal is preserving life, above all else."
Kirk is also concerned that none of the deputies were wearing body cameras. He wasn't aware that Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis is vehemently opposed to them, which has caused great concern over transparency and accountability with the community.
Officials have still not released the identity of the deputy involved in the shooting, but he has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the FDLE investigation.
R News reached out to Sheriff Nienhuis on Monday for comment regarding the concerns raised by the victim's family, but he declined; however, in response to our inquiry, Nienhuis posted the following statement on the agency's Facebook page, just minutes before we published this article.
On 11-11-22, deputies responded to the Feather Street address to serve two arrest warrants on Schryver.
- Warrant #1 – Felony Warrant – Violation of Drug Offender Probation – Issued 11-07-2022.
- Warrant #2 – Felony Warrant – Traffic in Stolen Property and False Information to Pawn Broker – Issued 11-07-22.
Deputies were invited in, and escorted to the bedroom where Schryver was located, by the homeowner. When deputies initially made contact with Schryver inside the residence, he immediately became confrontational. Schryver's actions led to the deputy-involved shooting.
Schryver, who was known to have violent tendencies, used at least 10 aliases and at least three different social security numbers, and had a lengthy criminal history dating back as far as 1977.
Previous arrests include:
- 10-27-77 – Burglary – Felony (NY)
- 09-08-78 – Burglary – Felony (NY)
- 05-11-79 - Throw Deadly Missile Into Dwelling/Vehicle/Building or Aircraft – Felony
- 07-16-79 - Resist Arrest w/o Violence – Misdemeanor
- 01-29-80 – Dealing in Stolen Property - Felony
- 09-02-81 - Burglary w/Assault/Battery – Felony
- 10-16-81 - Burglary w/Assault/Battery – Felony
- 12-01-81 - Burglary w/Assault/Battery – Felony
- 01-29-88 - Cocaine Possession w/Intent to Sell/Manufacture/Deliver – Felony
- 04-20-96 - Unauthorized Use of Vehicle – Misdemeanor (NY)
- 10-02-96 - Unauthorized Use of Vehicle – Misdemeanor (NY)
- 09-19-98 - Petty Larceny – Misdemeanor (NY)
- 01-19-99 - Petty Larceny – Misdemeanor (NY)
- 01-30-06 - Robbery by Sudden Snatching – Felony
- 01-30-06 - Petit Theft – Misdemeanor
- 02-06-06 - Robbery by Sudden Snatching – Felony
- 09-22-11 - Robbery by Sudden Snatching – Felony
- 11-16-18 - DUI – Misdemeanor
- 12-21-18 - Dealing/Trafficking Stolen Property – Felony
- 12-21-18 - Grand Theft – Felony
- 12-21-18 - Fraud – False Info to Pawn Broker – Felony
- 12-21-18 - Defrauding a Pawn Broker – Felony
- 12-11-19 - Grand Theft – Felony.
Hernando County Sheriff's deputies had previous contact with Schryver in February 2018 when an unknown person called to report a suspicious person walking around the Family Dollar (Marble Avenue/Spring Hill Drive) with a firearm.
When deputies located the individual, later identified as Schryver, he immediately became confrontational. Very shortly thereafter, the deputy advised "shots fired."
Schryver, who was shot by the deputy, was transported to the hospital in stable condition. He recovered from his injuries.
Two additional persons who live at the Feather Street residence, both with extensive criminal histories, were also placed under arrest on 11-11-22.
As per standard protocol, the deputy, whose identity is protected under Marsy's Law, has been placed on paid administrative leave.
This information is preliminary. The investigation being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is still active and fluid. As details are verified, that will not compromise the investigation, additional information will be provided.
In deputy-involved shooting investigations, the FDLE works closely with the State Attorney's Office to determine whether the use of force was justified.
The HCSO will also investigate the incident internally, to ensure agency policy and law enforcement best practices were followed.
The deputy we spoke to earlier says Niehuis's statement only reinforces the need for a detailed brief and multiple deputies being required to execute this warrant. He believes Schryver may still be alive if they had been better prepared.
R News will continue to follow this story...