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Cheryl Williams, a 46-year-old convicted felon who spent nine years in prison on a drug trafficking conviction, is now charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy Blane Lane, 21.
Williams remains hospitalized at Lakeland Regional Medical Center in stable condition. She was shot at least twice by Polk County deputies after they say she pointed a pistol at them when they tried to arrest her on a failure to appear charge for felony possession of methamphetamine.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives also charged Williams with:
- Three counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, a second-degree felony
- Three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a second-degree felony
- Three counts of resisting arrest, a second-degree felony
- Two counts of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, a second-degree felony
- Possession of methamphetamine, a third-degree felony
Williams is a convicted felon who spent nine years in prison — out of an 11-year sentence — for trafficking in methamphetamine.
The shooting happened at about 3 a.m. Tuesday when four deputies arrived at a mobile home on Foxtown South Road west of Polk City after learning that Williams was there.
According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, three deputies were invited into the home, but were not warned by two men they encountered, first at the front door and then the back, that Williams had armed herself with a BB pistol that looks nearly identical to a 9 mm pistol. Judd gave this account of the incident at a Tuesday news conference:
Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Brooks, a supervisor, and Deputies Johnny Holsonback III and Adam Pennell began searching the house, walking through what Judd described as a maze as they went from room to room. A Bible, open to 2 Kings, Chapters 20 and 21, a light beer and a meth pipe were lying on one bed.
Lane remained outside, watching the front door in case Williams ran out. As he was trained to do, he took up a tactical position where he could see the door and a set of windows, but also take cover behind a refrigerator on the front porch if a shootout began.
Inside the home, Williams stepped out of her hiding place in what Judd described as a game room and pointed the silver handgun at Holsonback and Brooks. Both men pulled out their service pistols and fired. Judd said they possibly shot six bullets.
Outside, Lane was hit in his left shoulder and rushed to Lakeland Regional Medical Center. One bullet fired by one of the deputies had gone through the thin metal wall of the mobile home and struck Lane. At first, Judd said, they thought he would survive – all his vital signs were good. But Lane died on the gurney as the trauma team was working on him – the bullet had gone into his chest.
After a search of the residence that Williams shares with the two men, both convicted felons, deputies found the following firearms displayed on a gun rack attached to the wall in the hallway:
- A Marlin model 99M1 .22 caliber rifle with scope; one live round in the chamber and seven rounds in the magazine tube
- A Connecticut Valley Arms, Inc. single-shot 12 gauge shotgun
- A bolt-action 410 gauge shotgun; one live round in the chamber
Deputies arrested Donald Mathis, 72, and Joseph Larry Albritton, Jr., 55, and charged them with:
- Three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a third-degree felony,
- Five counts of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, a fifth-degree felony – one count for each bullet found.
Albritton was also charged with violation of probation. Albritton’s criminal history includes eight felonies and 22 misdemeanors. Since 1986 he has been arrested multiple times and charged with aggravated battery, battery domestic violence, resisting arrest, trespassing, driving under the influence, possession of methamphetamine and marijuana, driving while license suspended or revoked, and tampering with a witness.
Mathis, who has previously spent 17 months in prison for cocaine possession, was also charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. Detectives found a small plastic baggie in his bedroom with a substance that tested positive for meth, along with three boxes of ammunition. He’s had numerous arrests since 1991, on charges such as possession of cocaine with intent to sell, grand theft, battery, driving under the influence, and petit theft.
“Everyone in that house is a convicted felon with a criminal history, but all they had to do was cooperate, and this tragedy would never have occurred,” Judd said in a media release Wednesday. “Cheryl Williams would have been taken into custody peacefully, and would solely be facing her original failure to appear charge. Now she is responsible for the death of Deputy Lane, a young man who had his entire life ahead of him, eager to serve the people of Polk County while making a positive difference as a law enforcement officer.”
Lane graduated from Mulberry High School in 2020 and Polk State College’s dual law enforcement-detention academy, and was hired as a detention deputy in May 2021. He became a deputy sheriff in January 2022, and was assigned to Northwest District Patrol. He lived in Fort Meade.
His funeral, with full law enforcement honors, will be scheduled for some time next week. Lane, who was unmarried, is survived by his 3-year-old daughter, his parents, Wayne and Shellie Lane, his extended family and many friends.
Kimberly C. Moore is an award-winning reporter and a Lakeland native. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-272-9250.
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