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Hernando sheriff: Deputies shoot, kill man who torched home

Geoff Fox
Hernando Today

Published:   |   Updated: May 8, 2014 at 06:10 PM

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A 69-year-old Brooksville man who set fire to his home, was shot to death by deputies who arrived Thursday morning to find him irate, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

James Quenton Palmer, who lived in a mobile home at 6095 California Street, was flown to a local trauma center where he died at 8:05 a.m., said Denise Moloney, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

A gun found near Palmer was taken into evidence, Moloney said.

Palmer called 911 Thursday morning stating he was going to set his home on fire because he was angry about an eviction notice, Moloney said.

Hernando Master Dep. Michael Beckwith arrived at Palmer’s home at 7:04 a.m., followed two minutes later by Dep. Aaron Cochrane, according to the sheriff’s office. At 7:07 a.m., deputies reported that the home was fully engulfed in flames and called for firefighters.

When the deputies encountered Palmer, he was irate, Moloney said.

“The situation escalated and deputies were forced to use deadly force,” she said. “I don’t think any other homes were in danger (from the fire), but I couldn’t see that far back because it’s so isolated.”

The location is within a couple miles of Nature Coast Technical High School and Chocachatti Elementary School. Neither school was locked down, authorities said.

It was not immediately clear how many shots were fired by deputies, neither of whom were injured.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will take over the investigation.

Beckwith, 47, has been with the agency for nearly 24 years. Cochran, 26, has been a Hernando deputy since October; he previously worked as a telecommunicator in the Emergency Communications Center, where he started in April 2010.

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