Robert Striffler was shot by Brevard County Sheriff’s deputies after a three-hour standoff in the parking lot of the Moore Justice Center, during which he waved a pistol and yelled threats.
“The pistol is actually designed to resemble a firearm,” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said on the video. He said Striffler’s Stinger P311 had been modified — the orange tip that would identify it as a toy had been removed. The manufacturer’s website said the $15.99 gun resembles popular U.S. military pistols of the past.
“I think it’s important to keep in mind that our deputies are trained to respond to life and death situations and are forced to make split-second decisions with the best information they have available,” Ivey said. “The deputies that responded Friday encountered a deadly threat, and responded to that threat appropriately. Replica guns are extremely realistic, and difficult to distinguish from an actual, functioning firearm.”
Ivey identified the agents who fired as Chris Neel and Juan Vargas. Neel is a nine-year veteran, Vargas has served eight years. Both have been routinely placed on administrative leave while both BCSO and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conduct investigations, both of which will be presented to the State Attorney’s Office for review.
Agency spokeswoman Deputy Maria Fernez said Neel and Vargas are part of the SWAT team that responded to the scene on Friday.
The standoff ended with gunshots at about 1 p.m.
Ivey previously said Striffler “responded in an aggressive fashion” to deputies attempts at subduing him with non-lethal force. Striffler’s response prompted the deputies to shoot to kill to protect themselves, Ivey said.
At the end of the standoff, Fernez said, the Airsoft pistol was found next to Striffler’s body.
Fernez explained the non-lethal weapon deputies used was a Taser XREP, self-contained device that can be fired from a shotgun and stuns a person with electricity. She said Neel and Vargas were not the ones who fired the non-lethal weapon, but couldn’t identify who did. Taser previously discontinued the XREP.
Fernez estimated at least 100 people witnessed the incident, and the FDLE will interview all them.