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Hernando deputy shoots, kills man on rampage
He was upset after a breakup with his girlfriend. At his parents' home, deputies confronted him and he fired a gun.
By JOHN FRANK, Times Staff Writer
Published November 21, 2007
SPRING HILL - Neighbors described 25-year-old Kyle Gabelman as a "lit fuse."
His quick temper exploded Tuesday after a breakup with his girlfriend. He became irrational, depressed and suicidal. Then, he became armed with a small black handgun.
Events spiraled out of control. Sheriff's deputies arrived. But Gabelman still burned.
At 1:53 p.m., he walked out the door of his parents' home at 13411 Banyan Road in Spring Hill and fired a shot. Authorities said he aimed at deputies. Eyewitnesses were not so sure.
A Hernando County Sheriff's deputy armed with a semiautomatic assault rifle fired a series of bullets that hit Gabelman. He died on the concrete driveway outside his tan home with dark brown shutters, investigators say.
The incident riled a neighborhood and a law enforcement agency. The Sheriff's Office said this is the first shooting death involving a deputy in some time.
Mother called 911
At the scene, witnesses gabbed about what they saw and heard as Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers took over the investigation, as is standard procedure when an officer is involved in a shooting.
Rick Taveras, a FDLE special agent in Brooksville, said only what everyone knew: There was a shooting. The agency released no other details.
What is known comes from witnesses and the Hernando Sheriff's Office, which described the long series of events leading up to the shooting.
According to Deputy Chief Mike Hensley, it began at 11:50 a.m. when Gabelman's mother, Debbie, called 911 to say she was worried about her son, who was depressed about a breakup. She told authorities he left the house in his black Ford F-150.
Later, at Barclay Avenue and Spring Hill Drive, a truck matching that description hit another vehicle and took off.
Gabelman returned to the home, his truck smashed on the front passenger side. He was armed with a gun. His parents called 911 again, but Gabelman took off.
Authorities were looking for him by this point, but he ditched the truck somewhere and then walked back to the house, arriving at 1:51 p.m.
Again, a 911 call. His mother said Gabelman was banging on the door trying to get in. "They were extremely afraid of him and he was acting irrational," Hensley said at the scene.
This time authorities were nearby. Witnesses said deputies confronted Gabelman outside the home, but this is where accounts begin to differ.
Hensley said Gabelman came out the front door of the house and fired a shot. He said deputies had no choice but to return fire.
This is where the official information ended. Neighbors who witnessed the incident added details to the rest of the story.
Glen Hruby, 38, was working on a friend's truck two doors down when he heard the commotion. He said he heard sheriff's deputies yelling and chasing Gabelman around the back of the home.
"They were yelling, 'Just put it down, just put it down,'" Hruby said. "He said something like, 'I just want to make a phone call."'
At that point, Gabelman came around to the front of the home and started banging on the front door, numerous witnesses recalled.
Amanda Wahezi, 16, lives across the street. She had just returned home from tanning and stood talking to a neighbor when she saw the whole thing unfold. She said Gabelman had a gun in his left hand and tried to run when deputies arrived. He stopped by the bushes at the front of the house as deputies surrounded him.
"The gun was in his hand and he was waving it around," Wahezi said. "I think he shot once up in the air. He fired, but I'm not sure" which direction.
'Bam, bam, bam'
Hruby remembers seeing the unidentified deputy who shot Gabelman pull his police cruiser halfway into the lawn and get out. "I saw the officer - he went to his trunk, pulled out an assault rifle, snapped it together...he squeezed off about nine shots at least," Hruby said. "I never saw (Gabelman) fire any shots at the officer."
Sheila Christensen heard it from her home a few doors down. "It sounded like fire crackers," she said. "Bam, bam, bam...one right after another."
At some point, numerous witnesses heard a big boom, possibly a shot, but they can't exactly place when they heard it.
FDLE investigators and Sheriff's Office officials refused to comment on any of these details. Neither would identify the deputy who fired the rifle, how many shots were fired or discuss the types of guns involved. Sheriff Richard Nugent was out of town Tuesday.
Wahezi's mother, Maureen, 57, said she talked to Gabelman's parents not too long ago. She said they installed an alarm system at the house to keep him out.
"His parents wouldn't let him in," she said.
Sheriff's records show that deputies responded to the home several times in recent years as they investigated an assortment of cases.
Dave Jacobus, 39, who lives two doors down said he sold the truck in the driveway to Gabelman's father. "He has a short temper," he said of Kyle Gabelman. "If you met him you'd understand."