Woman charged in deadly Monday shooting; more details released


INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Deputies said a 49-year-old real estate agent waited for her boyfriend to walk into an office at the Vista Royale complex before fatally shooting him with a 9 mm handgun. The woman, Donna Lavonne Smith, initially told deputies that the man assaulted and chased her, but her story was inconsistent with the crime scene, according to Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers.

“She was waiting for him to arrive at which point she shot and killed him,” Flowers said during a Tuesday news conference. “They worked together and lived together. There were signs that this was a tumultuous relationship and that this has been building up for a while.”

Donna Lavonne Smith

Smith, of Vista Palm Lane, was charged with second-degree murder. Smith remained held at the Indian River County Jail Tuesday without bond.

“We’re happy we have her in custody,” Flowers said. The sheriff said Smith was not cooperating with deputies and had asked for her attorney.

Flowers identified the man as Jeffrey Simmons, 57, a property manager at Vista Royale – a quiet community for residents 55 and older. Smith and Simmons both worked inside the office, Flowers said.

Indian River County deputies received a 911 call from Smith about 6:43 p.m. Monday, saying she just shot her boyfriend.

“It appears there were no signs of a struggle at the apartment or the office,” Flowers said, adding that evidence appeared to contradict Smith’s story.

Deputies went to the scene and found Simmons’ body inside the office, which is connected to the American Golf Club of Vero Beach course. The shooting happened not far from the Grille on the Green restaurant at Vista Royale, which is open to the public and not a gated community.

Flowers said Smith and Simmons, who had recently moved in together at Vista Royale, got into an argument at their condo unit earlier before they both left. Sheriff’s officials said Simmons drove a golf cart from the residence and parked it in front of the office.

Smith got in her vehicle and followed him. Sheriff’s officials said Simmons had walked over to the nearby restaurant and then went back to the office where Smith confronted him.

“Her initial statements that he was chasing her were proven the opposite,” Flowers said. Sgt. Kevin Jaworski, a spokesperson with the sheriff’s office, said deputies found the golf cart and Smith’s vehicle parked in front of the office.

Smith will appear in court Wednesday morning for first appearance, Flowers said. Flowers said deputies were combing through surveillance footage.

Deputies recovered the firearm from the scene, Jaworski said. Those with more information on the shooting should call the sheriff’s office at 772-569-6700.

“We continue to battle domestic violence. I now have a deputy dedicated full time to domestic violence cases. This is the exact type of thing we’re trying to prevent,” Flowers said. “Domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes out there. Who knows what was going on prior to this. We hope other people will come forward (in this case.) If you know anything about this couple, we’re still looking for that information. If you were out there last night and saw anything, we’re looking to talk to you as a witness.”

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