INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 29-year-old man shot by a deputy after charging at the officer with a small sword has died from his injuries, officials said.
The man – identified as Michael Kifer – was taken by ambulance to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute in Fort Pierce after the shooting, deputies said. Doctors pronounced him dead early Saturday, deputies said.
“He was set on committing suicide by law enforcement last night and he forced our hand where we had to take action,” Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar said in a statement. “These are unfortunate situations, but we are proud of the work of the brave men and women of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office who did their best last night to bring this very dangerous situation to a resolution.”
Sheriff’s officials said an autopsy and toxicology will be performed as part of the investigation. This is the second deputy-involved shooting to happen in Indian River County this year.
The deputy who fired the fatal shot was not hurt, Indian River County sheriff’s spokesman Maj. Eric Flowers said. The name of the deputy was not released.
The deputy was placed on paid administrative leave, which is protocol for deputy-involved shootings, Flowers said.
Sheriff’s officials received a series of calls about a disturbance about 7 p.m. Friday at a home in the 1100 block of 35th Avenue Southwest in the Grovenor Estates area. Deputies had already went to the home two times prior to confront Kifer, who was possibly under the influence of drugs.
The third time, deputies received information that Kifer was armed with a knife and made threats to harm another individual. Deputies arrived on scene and found Kifer with a small hatchet in the yard, officials said.
Deputies chased Kifer inside the residence, but did not go in. Kifer lived at the home with his mother, brother, sister and his infant nephew, according to neighbors.
Kifer was the only person inside the home during the incident, Flowers said.
Deputies made multiple attempts to contact Kifer after he barricaded himself inside the residence. The sheriff’s SWAT team and Crisis Negotiation Team were called to the scene.
Deputies used a loud speaker and tried to call Kifer by phone to try and get him to come outside, Flowers said.
“He refused to come out,” Flowers said.
The SWAT team used a metal ram to break through the front door, but did not go inside. The team used surveillance equipment to look inside the home and discovered Kifer locked himself inside a room, Flowers said.
“Our goal was to not go inside the home,” Flowers said, noting the man could’ve had more deadly weapons inside.
The SWAT team shattered the room window from the outside and saw Kifer standing with a small sword with a blade about 12 inches long. The man yelled ‘shoot me’ at deputies, Flowers said.
The SWAT team and deputies fired four non-lethal bean bag rounds and deployed a Taser at Kifer, all of which were ineffective, Flowers said. A neighbor who lives a block north told Vero News he saw at least three armored vehicles and heard several shots.
Kifer ran out of a side door and went into the yard of a home across the street.
Deputies gave commands for Kifer to drop the sword, but he refused. Deputies fired two more Taser cartridges at Kifer, which were unsuccessful, officials said.
Kifer charged at one deputy and was subsequently shot once, Flowers said. Emergency Medical Services treated Kifer, who was then taken to a hospital in Fort Pierce.
Kifer later died from his injuries, officials said.
The 19th Judicial Circuit Assistant State Attorney and state attorney investigator were at the scene Friday night speaking with detectives. Neighbors said that cops would usually be at the Kifer household about once a month for various incidents.
One neighbor said Kifer was living at the home for a few years, but did not grow up in the neighborhood. Neighbors said the Kifer family kept to themselves.
The investigation into the deadly shooting remains ongoing.