Daniel Leyden, a Florida sheriff’s deputy, and his law enforcement colleague were found dead in what officials are calling a murder-suicide. 

In a statement issued late on Saturday, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said that Leyden and another deputy were found dead with gunshot wounds in a vacation home in St. Augustine. Authorities said that a preliminary investigation found that Leyden’s injury “appears to be self-inflicted, and that he was the sole shooter.”

The identity of Leyden’s apparent victim was not immediately available Monday evening, and no age was given for either deputy.  

Officials added that the pair were known to be “in a romantic relationship,” but did not elaborate further. No motive has been suggested, though an investigation is ongoing. 

Deputy Daniel Leyden, Lover Die in Murder-Suicide

According to the official statement and local media reports, Leyden and his lover lived in the Tampa area and worked as Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies. 

Leyden, a detective, held a post in the Criminal Investigations Division. Officials said that the other deputy, whose name has not been officially released, was a uniform officer assigned to a patrol area on Hillsborough County’s western rim. 

It’s not clear if the couple were married, either to one another or otherwise. 

Daniel Leyden his lover were on vacation with colleagues before they died in a murder-suicide Saturday, officials said.
Daniel Leyden and his lover were on vacation with colleagues before they died in a murder-suicide Saturday, officials said. Photo credit: Instagram

The sheriff’s office said Leyden, his lover and an unspecified number “fellow deputies” rented a vacation house some 200 miles from Hillsborough County in St. Augustine over the weekend. 

Some time before 10 p.m. on Saturday, colleagues in the rental home heard Leyden and his lover arguing from a bedroom “just prior to the sound of gunshots,” according to authorities

Kieran Wallace, who lives right next door to the vacation house, told Jacksonville’s WJXT he and other neighbors heard the gunfire from inside their homes. 

“It was just unlucky that it was next door to us, it could have been down the street, it could have been up the street,” he told the outlet. 

A short while after hearing gunfire, Wallace said authorities reached out to tell him to stay indoors until told otherwise. 

“It was a little bit alarming,” he told reporters. “And about 30 minutes later, we got a phone call that said we need to lock indoors and stay inside.” 

Police said Daniel Leyden, his lover, and other deputies were in this vacation home at the time of the murder-suicide.
Police said Daniel Leyden, his lover, and other deputies were in this vacation home at the time of the murder-suicide. Photo credit: Google Maps

Investigators have not said how long after he allegedly killed his lover that Detective Leyden took his own life, but by Wallace’s account, there may have been a standoff between local authorities and the Sheriff’s Deputy before he turned the gun on himself. 

“The police was out front and kept repeating for Daniel to come out with his hands up,” he told the local outlet

When first responders finally entered the home, they found Leyden and the unnamed deputy dead. 

“Tragically, the incident is being investigated as a murder-suicide,” said a spokesperson for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction and is handling the official probe. “This is an isolated incident and there is no threat to the public.”

Daniel Leyden reportedly killed his lover in a murder-suicide. Both were Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies.
Daniel Leyden reportedly killed his lover in a murder-suicide. Both were Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies. Photo credit: Google Maps

Sheriff’s Office In Shock

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister issued a written statement late on Saturday. 

“Our Sheriff’s Office family is still reeling from the shock of this unthinkable tragedy,” he said. My prayers for strength and comfort are with the families and loved ones of these deputies, and every member of Team HCSO affected by this painful loss.”

Authorities also said that a “Peer Support Team” will be available for all Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office employees “to provide confidential assistance […] in times of trauma.”

Sheriff Chad Chronister said his office was shocked that deputy Daniel Leyden killed his lover and himself in an apparent murder-suicide
Sheriff Chad Chronister said his office was shocked that deputy Daniel Leyden killed his lover and himself in an apparent murder-suicide. Photo credit: Hillsborough County

“Violence is never a solution, and I urge any employee who is dealing with a crisis to take advantage of the many resources our agency has created over the past several years which include Peer Support, Chaplains, and a clinical psychologist,” the Sheriff said. 

“Help is just a phone call away.”