SEBRING — Local deputies shot and killed a man Thursday night after he reportedly shot one of them in a scuffle inside a Sebring home.
Matthew Todd Nocerino, 30, was pronounced dead by Highlands County Emergency Medical Services shortly after arriving at the scene at 9:44 p.m.
Both deputies have been relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave, according to agency policy, pending an independent investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office. Their names are being withheld pending investigation.
“At this time I would ask you to keep our deputies and the decedent’s family in your prayers,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said in a recorded statement late Thursday night.
According to Blackman, the incident started as an attempt to serve warrants on both Nocerino and a woman at the house, Kelly Townsend.
At approximately 9:17 p.m. Thursday, deputies arrived at 9133 Markland Lane in Sebring, on the west side of the Silver Fox subdivision off State Road 66.
When they arrived, they spoke with Townsend about an active felony warrant for her arrest on charges of burglary of a dwelling and grand theft.
According to Sheriff’s Office officials, deputies also had a felony warrant for Nocerino on the same charges, and suspected he was at the house. Deputies saw him walking through the residence, according to Sheriff’s Office reports, and told him to stop and come to them. Instead, he fled, reports said.
Deputies gave chase, firing a TASER at him, hitting him in his left hip and waist. Nocerino kept running, though, until he reached a bedroom, reports said, and pulled out a handgun.
Nocerino fired, reports said, striking a deputy in his ballistic vest.
Deputies told dispatch at 9:36 p.m. that shots were fired. At least one deputy then returned fire with his agency-issued weapon, reports said, hitting Nocerino several times, killing him.
EMS transported the deputy who was shot to a local hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries. The shot landed in the upper torso, sheriff’s officials said Friday. The vest saved the deputy’s life, leaving only a “nasty bruise.”
The sheriff’s office also did not release the caliber of weapon Nocerino fired, citing the matter still being under FDLE investigation.
According to Blackman, the released report is preliminary, based strictly on current evidence, and could change as the investigation unfolds.
Nocerino, born Nov. 11, 1989, has served several stints in prison for violent charges, to include battery on a law enforcement officer, sheriff’s officials reported. He had just gotten out of prison in January and had not yet completed a several-year process to have civil rights restored, to include the right to possess or carry a firearm.
Townsend was taken to the Highlands County Jail and booked on active warrants for grand theft and burglary of a dwelling.