Sheriff’s office delays release of info in teen’s shooting death

Published: May 6, 2021 6:36 PM EDT
Updated: May 8, 2021 9:29 PM EDT

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office conducted a death investigation of a teenager at a house on Euler Avenue in Englewood East back on March 31. But Thursday was the first time we learned about it.

A teenage girl was determined to have been accidentally shot and killed in the back bedroom of the home, and detectives say other minors are involved in the case.

Joe Higgs of New Mexico called the Englewood Sun a month later and said the victim of the shooting was his daughter, 16-year-old Autumn Higgs. He told the newspaper he learned about the shooting on social media.

Neighbors in Englewood East told us they remembered first responders on Euler Avenue and recalled deputies spending days in and out while they collected evidence and blocked off the street.

“The sirens coming in, and then, it just seemed like it never ended,” Chet Davis said. “They just kept on coming and more and more and more.”

But the sheriff’s office never announced deputies were investigating a deadly shooting.

According to a sheriff’s office report, a minor involved in the shooting threatened to tie himself up with seatbelts in a CCSO patrol vehicle and said, “My life is over. There is no moving on from this,” so deputies placed him into protective custody under the Baker Act.

Deputies say the shooting was accidental, so we asked the sheriff’s office why the public is learning about it more than a month later, and a spokesperson told us CCSO notified the victim’s relatives, but apparently, not the girl’s father.

The spokesperson also said CCSO wanted to maintain the integrity of the investigation and protect the mental health of all parties, and let the investigation progress before releasing any information.

The sheriff’s office told us it handed over the case to the state attorney’s office, and it will determine if charges should be filed.