ISLAMORADA -- In a recent Facebook profile picture, Robert Parlette Jr. is sitting on the hood of a red convertible sports car, dressed all in black, smiling at the camera.
On Friday, the 73-year-old was dead, the first person believed to be shot and killed by a Monroe County Sheriff’s on-duty officer in at least a decade.
Deputies responded to a “shots fired call” just before 1 p.m. at Bayview Isles Drive in an upscale community in Islamorada. When they arrived at the home, a witness told them Parlette was behind the two-story home with a gun.
When the officers walked behind the house, Parlette fired at them, according to Becky Herrin, Monroe County Sheriff’s spokeswoman. The deputies fired back, hitting Parlette in the chest. He was taken to Mariner’s Hospital in nearby Tavernier, where he was pronounced dead.
Neighbors who live on the street, some walking their dogs, said they could not believe what happened.
“Bob was a very, very nice man,” said one neighbor who did not wish to be identified. “It always was fun around him. One time he left a nice recipe in my mailbox.”
A woman could be heard crying hysterically in a house across the street from where Parlette has lived off and on since 2000. He also had a home in Wellington.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is leading the investigation, said Carol Frederick, FDLE agent in charge. This is standard procedure for an officer involved shooting by a Sheriff’s officer in the Keys, Herrin said.
“We don’t have many officer involved shootings in the Keys,” Herrin said.
Parlette was from Wapakoneta, Ohio. According to his Facebook profile, he attended the University of Miami from 1962-64 and from 1974 to 2007 worked at Advertising Concepts of America in Fort Lauderdale.
Neighbors say he was very distraught over the death of his first wife about seven years ago. They say he had moved back to Palm Beach County for several years and recently came back to live at the Islamorada home with a new wife. He had two adult daughters.
“The emotion of coming back here must have been too much for him,” one neighbor said. “He told me he was having a problem with alcohol. This is a sad way to end your life like this.”
On Friday, members of the State Attorney’s Office in the Keys were at the house blocked off by crime scene tape. They said they also could not remember the last time a sheriff’s officer in the Keys had shot and killed a suspect.
The last officer involved shooting in the Keys in which a suspect was hit occurred in 2009 in Marathon. Sheriff’s deputies were working with two federal officers to apprehend a fugitive hiding out in a trailer who was wanted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Larkin Baggett fired at the officers who fired back. Baggett was hit and air-lifted to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.