Three women were killed near Plant City High School Wednesday morning.
Shortly before Plant City High School was set to start another Wednesday morning, a nearby Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy radioed in a threat to end his own life just outside school property. Police later learned Terry Strawn, 58, was responsible for three nearby deaths.
Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a Wednesday morning press conference that Strawn killed his wife, daughter and granddaughter in their Plant City and Valrico homes before taking his own life. Strawn radioed in at 6:42 a.m. to state he had “caused harm” to his family and gave directions to a location near the school where he planned to kill himself. Deputies’ attempts over the radio and in person to talk him out of taking his own life were unsuccessful, Chronister said.
Chronister said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference that Strawn first shot his wife Theresa, 54, and granddaughter Londyn, 6, at their Valrico home, then traveled to Plant City and shot daughter Courtney, 32, at her home. He then left the home, traveled a short distance down the road near the PCHS baseball field and got on the radio. Chronister said Strawn both discussed what he had done and urged the HCSO personnel to “take care of each other.” Strawn fired all of the shots with his service revolver, HCSO confirmed.
Strawn, Chronister said, was hired by HCSO in 1991 and retired in 2017. He was later hired back on as a school resource officer at Valrico Elementary School, which his granddaughter attended. Chronister said he was excited to be promoted from a temporary position to full-time, permanent status.
Chronister said Strawn hadn’t shown any signs of depression, financial troubles or anything to suggest he was dealing with any mental health problems. Strawn was named Officer of the Year in 2009 and had passed financial background checks required for his work at Valrico Elementary.
“There’s been absolutely no indication of any type of behavioral issues,” Chronister said. “Glowing recommendations throughout his entire training process and job evaluations.”
Chronister said HCSO will begin suicide prevention and awareness programs for all personnel beginning in January 2019. Wednesday’s murder-suicide is the second involving an HCSO deputy since September.
“I truly believe law enforcement’s no different than modern-day society. We have to change the culture,” Chronister said. “We have to make sure everyone knows that it’s OK to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness to say, hey, listen… I need some help.’”