MULBERRY, Florida - Nicole Meadows says she never thought something like this could happen. Her heart is broken, she admits, after her longtime husband, Doug, her high school sweetheart, stands accused of attempted first degree murder on a law enforcement officer, Lieutenant Terry Storie with the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
"It feels like an awful dream," Nicole Meadows told 10 News while standing in front of her Mulberry home. "He would never hurt anyone. My husband is not a monster. He is a loving man. I want people to know that."
Nicole and Doug went on a fishing trip Sunday to Hardee County. It was supposed to be a quiet afternoon, a break from their busy lives. Doug worked at Purina Mills for the past twenty years, while she is a customer service representative at Sweetbay.
"He was drinking whiskey," Nicole says. "We began fighting and came home. I went in the kitchen and saw him staring out the window. I knew something was wrong."
Nicole tells us that while her husband has never been in trouble with the law, he has fought his own personal demons. Each day, she says, he's in substantial pain after a motorcycle accident back in 2006 where he nearly had his leg amputated. Doug takes strong medication for the pain, Nicole says, and always struggles.
"He wakes up in pain every day, suffers from migraine headaches. He says it's a living hell every day when he wakes up."
It's that pain, Nicole maintains, that came to a tragic end on Sunday when the two returned from the fishing trip. After seeing him staring out the window in the kitchen, Nicole eventually found Doug sitting on the bed in their bedroom, a whiskey bottle in one hand, a 9mm handgun in the other.
"I told him to put the gun down. I saw one bullet in the chamber, one silver tip bullet in the chamber," Nicole said. "I'm telling you, he's not a violent person. He has no criminal history. This was not like him."
Nicole says her husband then called his mother on his cell phone and said, "Hang on." He then cocked the gun, his wife tells us, and said, "It's over."
Doug's mother called 911 immediately. That's when the Polk County Sheriff's Office SWAT team surrounded the house. Nicole says several streets in her quiet Mulberry neighborhood were evacuated. "Deputies were everywhere. I told Doug to put down the gun. I got the 9mm away from him, but he had other guns in the house. He fired five rounds in our bedroom wall, then told me to leave and locked the bedroom door," Nicole says.
Doug had several high-powered rifles in the home, including one with a scope, Nicole says. Doug told Nicole to get out of the house, so she did. She says she never feared for her life. Deputies told her to jump the fence and leave the yard. When deputies surrounded the home, Nicole says her husband stuck his head out the back door slightly and was upset that a deputy was near his vehicle.
Nicole says, "He fired a round into the ground. He wasn't aiming at the deputy. He wouldn't do that."
But, that round managed to ricochet off the pavement and hit a longtime deputy, Lt. Storie, who has been with the agency for 19 years. The 47-year-old is at home recovering after being hit in the leg.
Shortly after, SWAT members filled the house with tear gas, and Doug surrendered peacefully.
Doug Meadows is facing a number of charges, including attempted first degree murder. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says, "This is a normal Polk County family, and what makes this truly scary is that we have no record on this guy. He's never been in trouble with the law."