Beach vacation rental becomes the scene of a believed murder-suicide

Historic City News learned that a vacation rental home outside of St Augustine Beach became a crime scene Saturday night after residents reported hearing gunshots at 5318 A1A South in Anastasia Hills.  Detectives with the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the discovery of two Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies found dead inside.

In a statement, a sheriff’s spokesman says the incident is being investigated as a murder-suicide. Fellow Tampa area deputies, on vacation with the victim and presumed shooter, reported hearing arguing before the sounds of gunshots.

“Detective Daniel Leyden worked within the Criminal Investigations Division,” according to a statement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.  “The gunshot wound to Detective Leyden appears to be self-inflicted and the preliminary investigation revealed that he was the sole shooter.  The victim was also identified as a deputy sheriff, assigned to Uniform Patrol District III.”

The deputies were reportedly involved in a romantic relationship.  Local detectives reported that the exact circumstances and motive for the shooting are part of the active investigation and are yet unknown.  However, a St Johns County sheriff’s spokesman declared, “this is an isolated incident and there is no danger or threat to the public.”

“Our Sheriff’s Office family is still reeling from the shock of this unthinkable tragedy. My prayers for strength and comfort are with the families and loved ones of these deputies, and every member of our department affected by this painful loss,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.  “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. Help is just a phone call away.”