NCSO: Victim of deputy-involved shooting had a history of mental health concerns

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — It was a tragic ending for the life of a Nassau County mother of two after the sheriff said she pointed what looked like a rifle at deputies. A deputy fired back and killed her.


In a press conference Wednesday, Sheriff Bill Leeper said the rifle was actually a BB gun.

Deputies responded to the home on Barbara Lane after 2 a.m. Wednesday for a domestic call.

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Leeper said the woman, identified as Donna Dale, 47, was in the woods and deputies had a difficult time spotting her at first.

“Last night, she went out and was just so irritated, and I called the police because I wanted somebody to help,” James Merritt, Dale’s father, said. “I was already on the porch and went back inside for a second and then I heard the gun shot.”

Leeper said she had made threats to kill herself and pointed the gun at herself and then pointed it at deputies. A deputy with seven years on the force fired back once.

Read: Mental Health Awareness: How can family and friends help someone in need?

“I had tears enough last year,” Merritt said. His son and wife died days apart in November. He said he wishes deputies used a taser.

According to a police report, deputies Baker Acted Dale in December after she made threats to harm herself. On Tuesday night, just hours before deputies responded to the scene in Hilliard, Dale was cited for careless driving in Fernandina.

“It’s hard to say what’s going through people’s minds when you respond to situations like this. Deputies have to protect themselves and that’s what they were doing,” Sheriff Leeper said.

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The deputy will go on administrative leave for a few days until he is cleared by the investigation.

The family tells Action News Jax they have set up a GoFundMe page. Click here to learn more.

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