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Fla. deputy suspended over ‘unsafe’ target practice

An investigation revealed that several rounds accidentally struck and damaged a private citizen’s residence

By Keith Morelli
Tampa Tribune, Fla.

TAMPA, Fla. — A Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy involved in an off-duty target-practice gathering in Lithia that left a neighbor’s house riddled with bullet holes has been suspended for one day without pay, according to an internal affairs report released Monday.

The investigation concluded that Paul Adee Jr. violated department policy on the storage, handling and use of weapons.

Adee, a corrections deputy at Hillsborough County Jail, was with seven others on the morning of Jan. 24 at the home of a friend, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue firefighter Scott Radford. They had brought a cache of guns, including handguns, shotguns and an assault rifle.

They fired at targets on a 4-foot-tall berm in Radford’s backyard. Adee said he fired his .40-caliber handgun and no other firearms.

“An investigation revealed that several rounds accidentally struck and damaged a private citizen’s residence located down range,” the report says. “Deputy Adee’s act of discharging a weapon under such circumstances was unsafe and imprudent.”

The 194-page internal affairs report says Adee waived a review board hearing and accepted the discipline. The one-day suspension was at the low end of potential sanctions, which could have resulted in dismissal. The department has suspended 17 individuals for unsafe storage, handling and use of weapons, each for one day.

The investigation did not find Adee committed the misdemeanor count of discharging a firearm in public.

Some of the bullets, including at least one from the assault rifle, zipped over the berm, traveled 200 yards through the woods and hit the home of Dawn Bryan, a single mother of 13 children, most of them adopted. Bryan said one round shattered a window above a baby’s crib and others hit the back wall and the cage around a swimming pool.

She said most of her children were with relatives that morning and no one was hurt.

Bryan, reached late Monday afternoon, said she was shocked to learn of the discipline.

“One day of them shooting cost me” thousands, she said. A “one-day suspension cost him what, 80 bucks?”

She said none of the damage has been repaired because she can’t afford to get it fixed.

“It’s sad,” she said."I think we were told that Adee was going to stand up and help pay for my window. We’ve sent certified letters to Scott (Radford), and none of it has been fixed.”

Deputies were called and took statements, but after compiling a 198-page criminal report, never brought charges. Investigators and prosecutors said that because the firearms were being passed around, there was no way to determine who fired the shots that struck Bryan’s home.

The criminal report was released in April, and the internal affairs probe was made public Monday.

In a transcribed interview with a detective conducting the criminal investigation, Adee said: “I never knew we hit their residence. We were shooting at the berm. We did not intend to shoot at the residence. I feel bad that all of this has happened.”

Through the sheriff’s office, Adee declined a request for an interview on Monday.

Radford told an investigator he had no idea the bullets he and his friends were firing were hitting Bryan’s house.

“I will pay for all the damage,” he said in an interview. “We did not intend to shoot their residence. It was a mistake.”

The sheriff’s report estimated damage to the home at $1,500; Bryan says that figure could be more than $3,000.

Bryan said she thinks the department has covered for one of its own. Adee is the son of Hillsborough County sheriff’s Maj. Paul Adee, an administrator at the jail.

“No one has stood up,” Bryan said. “No one has apologized. He gets a one-day suspension. That’s a joke. I’m just so sick of it. Frustrated and sick of it.”

Copyright 2015 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)