Local News

Investigation continues into shooting incident

SEBRING - For Larry Daniels, the calm, quiet neighborhood on Plantation Drive he had moved into 50 years ago, became what he said was like a war zone eight months ago.

That was when Floyd Gene Hodge, 31, moved two homes down the street at 215 Plantation Drive.

A Highlands County sergeant fatally shot Hodge early Sunday morning after Hodge shot at houses along the street and then at Highlands County Sheriff's Office deputies who responded.

Ever since he moved in, Hodge had been shooting his guns for hours each day, Daniels said. He would often wake up at 3:30 a.m. and hear shooting, he said.

"It was like World War III," Daniels said Monday. The shooting became progressively worse three months ago, he said.

While Daniels talked about what happened Sunday, Highlands County deputies removed guns from Hodge's property.

Deputies referred media inquiries to spokeswoman Nell Hays, who issued a statement that no more information would be released until the investigation is complete and a final report is issued.

Family members, including Hodge's wife, Lisa Hodge, waited immediately outside the home. One woman said they did not want to talk to the media.

Sheriff Susan Benton said Sunday that Hodge's mental condition had gotten worse over the last two weeks and his family was trying to get him help.

Lisa Hodge told the media Sunday that her husband had his "demons" and was not in the right frame of mind. She did not elaborate.

Around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Daniels said he awoke to all the shooting.

Daniels said Hodge shot at his home at least three times, but he knew the bullets could not penetrate the logs that were used to build his house.

Other residences received as many as 40 bullet holes, he said, and another neighbor told him that he barely missed being struck by one of the bullets.

"He was walking up and down this road shooting," said Bernice Daniels, Larry Daniels' wife.

When deputies arrived, Daniels said he saw what was happening.

"He (Hodge) was trying to kill them," Daniels said. "There's no doubt in my mind."

Hodge was shooting at deputies and at their vehicle, and the "sergeant (John Singha) shot him one time and that was the end of it," Daniels said. "He fell right there (near a mailbox)."

Daniels and his family praised Highlands County deputies for their response.

"I have nothing but praise for all the deputies who came here," he said.

Daniels said deputies were professional in how they handled the situation.

"They gave him every chance in the world," Daniels said.

This wasn't the first time deputies had encountered Hodge. They were called out one time earlier this year and five times last year, the sheriff's office said.

Daniels said residents complained about Hodge continually shooting his gun, but deputies told them the area is zoned agricultural and he was allowed to shoot well into the evening.

Barbara Daniels, Larry Daniels' sister, said she heard the shooting and got her gun out for protection.

She said the incident wasn't a complete surprise and she had expressed fears to authorities that it would happen eventually.

"They didn't listen to me when I said something like this was going to happen," she said.


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