Florida deputy shot, killed responding to dispute about cat

Deputy William Gentry

Highlands County Sheriff via Facebook

Last Updated May 7, 2018 4:05 PM EDT

LAKE PLACID, Fla. - A Florida sheriff's deputy has died after he was shot and critically wounded Sunday while responding to a dispute over a cat, reports CBS affiliate WKMG. Highlands County Sheriff's officials said Deputy William Gentry was trying to resolve the dispute between neighbors when he approached the man suspected of shooting the cat, Joseph Edward Ables. 

Moments after Gentry first made contact with the 69-year-old, who was standing inside his front door, Gentry was shot, officials said.

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Joseph Ables

Highlands County Jail

Police describe Ables as a felon with a history of violence toward police. Ables was arrested at the scene and taken to the Highlands County Jail, officials said.

Gentry, 40, was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital in critical condition, but died Monday afternoon.

Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman said Gentry was with the Sheriff's Office for more than nine years and served as one of the department's field-training deputies. Gentry's brother also works at the Sheriff's Office as a detective, Blackman said.

"This is an unimaginable tragedy for our agency," Blackman said while Gentry was fighting for his life. "Our prayers are with Deputy Gentry and his family and we ask that your prayers be with them, also."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said on Twitter that his office had been in contact with the sheriff's office. In a statement, Scott mourned the loss of "another Florida hero, Deputy William Gentry, whose life has now been senselessly taken."

"We will not stand for anyone who hurts our law enforcement," he said.