Florida sheriff's deputy takes his own life outside agency headquarters

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SEBRING, Fla. (AP) — A sheriff's deputy in central Florida took his own life outside the agency's headquarters, officials said Wednesday.

Paul Robitaille, 56, worked for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, officials said in a news release. He worked as a detention deputy in the county courthouse in Sebring and had been with the agency since March 2007.

"Paul was a great employee with a great attitude. We are all shocked and heartbroken over this and I ask that everyone keep his family, friends and our agency family in their prayers,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said in the release.

Robitaille asked his supervisor for a break around 10 a.m. Wednesday, investigators said. He spoke briefly with another deputy outside the courthouse and then was found dead a short distance away, having shot himself with his service weapon, investigators said.

Robitaille gave no previous indication of anything wrong, Blackman said.

“If you or anyone you know is suffering with a mental crisis or having thoughts of self-harm, I beg you to please ask for help. You do not have to go through this alone. There are people who want to help," the sheriff said.

Robitaille leaves behind a wife and three children, one of whom is a part-time sheriff's deputy with Highlands County.

Sebring is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Tampa.


The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be reached by calling or texting 988 or through chatting at 988Lifeline.org.