3 in custody after off-duty Florida wildlife officer shot, killed

Officer Julian Keen Jr., 30, was shot while trying to stop a hit-and-run driver


By Jamal Thalji
Tampa Bay Times

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A state wildlife officer was found shot and killed in LaBelle early Sunday, according to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office.

The officer was identified as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Julian Keen Jr. He was 30 and had served with the agency for six years. Keen was shot and killed while trying to stop a hit-and-run driver, according to local news reports. He was off-duty at the time.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Julian Keen Jr. had served with the agency for six years. (Photo/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Julian Keen Jr. had served with the agency for six years. (Photo/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Now three people are in custody and being questioned, according to the Sheriff’s Office. But the agency did not say if any arrests have been made in this case.

“I’ve known the officer since he was 10 years old,” Hendry Sheriff Steven Whidden told WINK News. "He was a dear friend of mine. We considered him family. He was our brother. Julian was an absolute role model to everyone here.

“This was a heartbreaker. It hit me personally and it hit our community personally.”

Early Sunday, the Sheriff’s Office said dispatchers were notified that someone had been shot near LaBelle, which is about 26 miles east of Fort Myers.

Deputies were sent to the area of Apache Circle and Nobles Road, which is off State Road 78. When they arrived, the agency said, they found the officer had been fatally shot.

Sheriff’s detectives are working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on this case. The three people being questioned were described as “suspects” by the Sheriff’s Office.

The Florida Highway Patrol Command Officers Association posted this statement to Facebook:

“FWC Officer Julian Keen, who was murdered last night while following his calling to protect and serve others. He was a genuine officer who would literally give his shirt off his back to ANYONE who needed it.”

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office at (863) 674-0406.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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