Murder suspect shot Dixie sheriff's captain in the mouth

Published: Friday, January 15, 2010 at 9:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 at 9:02 p.m.

CROSS CITY -- Dixie County Sheriff's Capt. Chad Reed was one of several deputies in pursuit of John Kalisz, a Hernando County homicide suspect, when Kalisz pulled into a Dixie County gas station on U.S. 19 and Southeast 289th Street late Thursday afternoon.

The officers -- some in marked cars -- followed the suspect into the station at a normal rate of speed, witnesses said.

A minute later, dispatch records show deputies on the scene called for an ambulance for Reed, 33, who was shot once in the mouth and briefly remained conscious at the scene before dying later at Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Kalisz remained hospitalized Friday in critical condition at Shands, where he was flown after being shot by officers at the Cross City gas station. The 55-year-old Brooksville man is accused of killing two women -- one of whom was his sister -- and wounding two others in Hernando County before eluding police and ending up in Dixie County. Before pulling into the gas station, he threatened to "take out as many deputies as possible," Hernando authorities have said.

Meanwhile, the family of Capt. Reed planned his funeral, which is scheduled to take place Sunday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shootings.

Dispatch records show the Dixie County Sheriff's Office received a notice to be on the lookout for Kalisz at 4:47 p.m.

Dixie County Sheriff Dewey Hatcher said that at 4:56 p.m., Kalisz pulled into the Cross City BP station and up to the center of three gas pump islands. Several deputies followed him into the gas station, Hatcher said.

Hatcher said he met with those involved late Thursday and early Friday after they had returned from Shands.

"The thing that I tried to emphasize to them was not to beat themselves up over this," Hatcher said. "We could have the exact same situation today, and it may have turned out differently, but it was not something we had any control over."

Hatcher said Reed had exited his car and was walking south toward Kalisz, who was in the driver's seat of the car deputies had been following. Kalisz faced north, lifted a gun, pointed in Reed's direction and fired once, Hatcher said.

Deputy "Michael Brannin told me he saw the gun coming up in Kalisz's hand, so he started to fire," Hatcher said. "We had two other deputies return fire, too -- Mical Malloy and Maj. Scott Hardin. I think they fired 11 shots, and five of them hit (Kalisz), one in the side of his neck and the other four in the front of his torso."

After being hit, Reed remained upright and staggered backward 15 or 20 feet before falling to the pavement, Hatcher said.

"Another one of our deputies, John Simmons, reached Chad first, and (Chad) was able to tell him that he had been hit," Hatcher said. "John pulled him to safety around the back of his car because at that point we didn't know if there were more shooters or what."

FDLE seized the deputies' guns as well as the gun taken from Kalisz for analysis at a crime lab. Once FDLE agents have completed their report on the incident, it will be sent to the 3rd Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office.

It then will be up to State Attorney Skip Jarvis to decide whether charges will be filed against the suspect, as well as whether officers were justified in shooting him, an FDLE official said Friday.

FDLE spokesman Mike Morrison said agents were at the scene of the shooting Friday to gather evidence.

"FDLE's role is to interview witnesses, process the scene and examine all forensic evidence. Our job is fact-finding to determine how the incident unfolded and what happened," Morrison said. "Once we complete our investigation, we will provide a report to the State Attorney's Office. His office will make the determination on justifiable use of force and any charges against the suspect."

Morrison said he did not have an estimate as to how long the investigation will take.

Warrants have been issued in Hernando County for Kalisz's arrest on murder charges, Alachua County sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey said. He added that Kalisz is in custody but that custody is at Shands.

Less than a mile north of the scene of the shootings, Reed's widow, Holly Reed, was at her parents' home Friday talking about her late husband, their two young sons and the funeral plans she was making.

A visitation has been planned for Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Rick Gooding Funeral Home at 16984 S.E. U.S. 19 in Cross City. Reed's funeral service will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at the First Baptist Church of Cross City at 16024 S.E. U.S. 19.

News of Reed's death spread quickly across rural Dixie County and around law enforcement networks statewide.

On Friday morning, the small lobby inside the Sheriff's Office in the Dixie County Courthouse was packed with sheriffs from neighboring counties, ranking officers from state agencies and others who wanted to personally express their condolences and offer their help to the agency.

Several agencies offered to take over day-to-day operations to allow the Dixie sheriff's 72 employees a few days to grieve.

Hatcher said that what he cannot fathom is how he will replace Reed, a deputy with the ability to write everything from speeding tickets to federal grants. In addition to working with road deputies, Reed also served as the agency's spokesman and put on many of its public presentations,

"There were so many bills on his cap that it looked like a bonnet," Hatcher said. "I can put another body in his job, but there is no way we can ever replace him, because he could do it all. I just don't know how we will replace him."

The ordeal that ended in Reed being fatally shot started Thursday afternoon in Brooksville, when Hernando authorities say Kalisz shot four women, two of them fatally.

The two women killed have been identified as 61-year-old Kathryn Donovan -- Kalisz's older sister -- and Deborah Buckley Tillotson, 59, both of Brooksville. Donovan was shot three times and Tillotson four times, Hernando authorities said.

Also shot were Amy Wilson, 33, of Hudson, and 18-year-old Manessa Donovan, Kathryn Donovan's daughter. Wilson was shot two times and Manessa Donovan as many as five times, authorities said.

The 18-year-old was two months' pregnant at the time of the shooting and lost her unborn child as a result, Hernando Sheriff Richard Nugent said Friday. Both Wilson and Manessa Donovan were listed Friday in stable condition.

Wilson and Tillotson worked for Kathryn Donovan at her home-based business, Hernando authorities said.

Tensions between Kalisz and his sister intensified 13 months ago after he slid a CD containing nude photos of himself under the mattress of her daughter, Manessa Donovan, who was 17 at the time.

Assistant State Attorney Lisa Herndon prosecuted the case, which ended with Kalisz pleading guilty in October 2009 to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and a separate charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

On Friday, a friend of Kalisz's told detectives he was with Kalisz hours before the shooting.

They were taking target practice in the woods, Nugent said.

The friend had no idea Kalisz was getting ready for a shooting spree, Hernando authorities reported.

"He was sharpening his aim," Nugent said. "You can't ask for a more preliminary act."

The Tampa Tribune contributed to this report. Contact Karen Voyles at 395-5656 or

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