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Suspect killed in officer-involved incident

Photo source: Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

An investigation began Friday evening after a man died after being shot by an Okaloosa County Sheriff's deputy.

Sheriff Larry Ashley said 35-year-old Joseph Leland Fletcher attacked the deputies while they were trying to serve him with an arrest warrant.

The man and the deputy struggled over a gun and the man was fatally shot.

Fletcher was wanted for eluding law enforcement, grand theft auto and possession of a controlled substance related to a chase last month.

Ashley praises the men and women who protect and serve.

"The residents of Okaloosa County should feel awful proud that the men and women in law enforcement, our deputy sheriffs, are willing to go out and put their lives at risk every day," Ashley said. " They never know when they will be placed in mortal danger."

He said that's exactly what deputies serving the warrant at a home on Gap Creek Road in Fort Walton Beach were walking into.

"Officers called for backup before approaching the residence and upon knocking on the door the female resident stated that, 'Fletcher knows you're here and is inside hiding in a closet,'" Ashley said.

Deputies instructed him to come out and get on the ground.

He said, "Fletcher appears to start to comply before violently attacking the officers and then deputies attempt to use taser on which was ineffective on Fletcher."

Gallery | Officer-involved shooting in Fort Walton Beach

Ashley said things escalated quickly.

"While engaging officers Fletcher goes after one of the deputies' guns and eventually gain control of it. Another deputy confirms Fletcher has the deputy's gun before firing one shot into Fletcher's chest," Ashley said.

The man and the deputy struggled over a gun and the man was fatally shot.

Deputies performed CPR but Fletcher was pronounced dead on the scene.

Neighbors who didn't want to be identified said they were alarmed by the whole situation.

The female neighbor said, "I didn't know if I would be in danger or not. It was just a very very scary situation seeing all this activity out here on the street."

The whole incident was captured on body cameras but that footage won't be released until an investigation is complete.

Sheriff Ashley said they issued an alert on Thursday to be on the lookout for Fletcher who had threatened suicide by cop.

The deputies involved are on paid administrative leave while an investigation is underway.

Fletcher had an extensive criminal history.

Since 2002, he had been arrested at least ten times on different charges including narcotics violations and aggravated battery.

The last deadly officer-involved shooting in Okaloosa County happened last year when deputies killed the suspect who fatally shot Deputy Bill Myers.

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