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Driver killed in shootout with deputies in Highlands County, sheriff says

The 68-year-old man is accused of pulling out a pistol-grip shotgun during a traffic stop.

LAKE PLACID, Fla. — A call about a wrong-way driver ended in a deadly shootout Friday morning with law enforcement officers in the Lake Placid area.

The Highlands County Sheriff's Office says it was first alerted overnight to a van going the wrong way on the southbound side of US-27 near State Road 70. Just after 2:30 a.m., deputies spotted the white Econoline van heading north – now driving the correct way.

Authorities stopped the van a mile north of Sun ‘n Lakes Boulevard.

Investigators say 68-year-old driver Robert W. McNamara was the only person inside the van, and a deputy began writing him a citation for failing to maintain a lane.

While that citation was being written, McNamara is accused of becoming "argumentative" and refusing to stay in his seat. The sheriff's office says he got out of the van holding a pistol-grip shotgun and fired once at the deputy writing the ticket.

Both the deputy and a backup deputy reportedly fired back, hitting McNamara "several times."

"Our deputies did their best to provide Mr. McNamara medical treatment until Highlands County Emergency Medical Services arrived on scene and at 3:23 a.m. pronounced Mr. McNamara deceased," Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman said.

According to Sheriff Blackman, McNamara had a "criminal history out of both Florida and Connecticut for narcotics and paraphernalia possession."

Neither deputy was hurt. They've both been put on administrative leave, which is protocol while cases like this are investigated.

John Kromholz, assistant state attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit, will spearhead the investigation.

DEPUTY INVOLVED SHOOTING UPDATE Good morning, I am Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman. I am here this morning to report what we currently know about an officer involved shooting. As always, what I am reporting is subject to change as the investigation unfolds and we gather additional evidence. This morning, June 24th, at approximately 2:30 a.m., the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office received a call for service from the Florida Highway Patrol regarding a white van traveling north in the southbound lanes of US 27 near State Road 70 in the Lake Placid area. Our deputies responded and at 2:31 a.m., deputies located a white Econoline van in the area. At this point, the van was heading north in the northbound lanes. Deputies followed the van for a short period and then conducted a traffic stop at 2:33 a.m., a mile north of Sun ‘n Lakes Blvd. south near Lake Placid. At this point a deputy made contact with the driver and sole occupant of the van. During the traffic stop the deputy decided to issue the driver, 68-year-old white male Robert W. McNamara, a citation for failure to maintain a single lane. While the deputy was writing the citation, Mr. McNamara refused to stay in his vehicle and was being what can be described as argumentative with the deputy. As the deputy was completing the citation, Mr. McNamara exited his van and approached the deputy. Mr. McNamara produced a black in color, pistol-grip shotgun and fired a round at the deputy. The deputy issuing the citation and a backup deputy returned gun fire, striking Mr. McNamara several times. Our deputies did their best to provide Mr. McNamara medical treatment until Highlands County Emergency Medical Services arrived on scene and at 3:23 a.m. pronounced Mr. McNamara deceased. The two deputies involved in this situation were not injured and have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation. Mr. McNamara has a criminal history out of both Florida and Connecticut for narcotics and paraphernalia possession. Also on scene is assistant state’s attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit, John Kromholz, who will be overseeing the investigation of this inciden

Posted by Highlands County Sheriff's Office on Friday, June 24, 2022

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