Details emerge in shooting

Published: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 8, 2003 at 11:06 p.m.
LAKE CITY - The Columbia County man, who authorities said shot himself Tuesday afternoon after being shot in the legs by a sheriff's deputy, was the father of a Sheriff's Office investigator.
Charles Waldemar Seifert Jr., 75, of Lake City who died at the scene, had retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel and was the father of Investigator Ed Seifert, 33, who has worked for the Sheriff's Office for more than four years. Ed Seifert was off-duty at the time of the incident.
Seifert Jr. died shortly after 3:30 p.m. following a brief confrontation with Deputy Cecil Brownfield, 27. A Columbia County grand jury is scheduled to review the incident on Jan. 21.
During a short news conference Wednesday morning, Sheriff Frank Owens said the incident began shortly after Brownfield answered an unrelated call in Seifert's neighborhood, near the intersection of Angela Way and County Road 242.
At least one neighbor asked Brownfield to check on Seifert, who was sitting in the yard outside the home where he lived alone. Seifert had his back up against a pine tree and his knees drawn up toward his chest when Brownfield arrived, according to reports.
Owens said Brownfield told investigators that he rolled down the window of his patrol car and asked Seifert if he was OK. Seifert said he was not OK and Brownfield headed toward Seifert to see if there was something he could do to help the man.
Seifert picked up a foreign-made, .357-caliber revolver, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"When he (Brownfield) stepped out and walked over there, he had no idea that there was a gun over there," Owens said.
Brownfield also had no idea that Seifert was struggling with mental health issues, something that was later determined from talking to family members and neighbors, according to authorities.
Brownfield told investigators that when he saw Seifert waving a gun, he began backing up toward his patrol car for protection and then he called for backup.
The deputy then took his department-issued, 12-gauge pump shotgun out and ordered Seifert - who was still waiving his handgun around - to drop the gun, according to reports.
Instead, Seifert pointed the handgun directly at Brownfield, the deputy said. Reports said Seifert waved the gun around again, and then pointed it at Brownfield again.
Brownfield later told investigators he was in fear for his life and fired his shotgun once, hitting Seifert in the legs, reports said.
Seconds later Seifert put his gun to his head and fired once, reports said.
An autopsy was being conducted Wednesday to confirm that the self-inflicted gunshot wound was the cause of Seifert's death.
"This individual took his own life and we were in the area where it occurred," Owens said.
Following the shooting, crime scene specialists from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were called in to help process the scene. The specialists were able to determine that Seifert's gun had been fired twice, but could not determine where the first round went.
Brownfield was immediately placed on administrative duty, which is the department's normal procedure when a deputy is involved in a shooting.
"This is the first time this level of force had to be used by our organization in more than eight years," Owens said. "In a small town like ours, this kind of sad incident affects all of us."
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or

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