Report gives insight into response at house fire that included gunfire

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — 9 Investigates has looked into policy and training gaps that potentially placed public safety personnel in harms way.

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According to an after action report, the Osceola County Commission asked for after a shooting and a fire on Strathmore Circle in 2020.

In April of that year, deputies and the fire department responded to the house that was fully engulfed.

But what nobody seemed to know during the initial response was that a man in the house was firing an automatic weapon at other houses and fire trucks.

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He shot himself and a neighbor but missed those first responders.

The report said this could have been a catastrophic event.

It was 4:30 a.m. in the morning on April 20, 2020 when firefighters and deputies were called to a man’s house that was on fire in Osceola County.

A multitude of errors caused the fire trucks there to help put out the flames also be shot up in what they called an ambush by the person inside the home.

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The report said the critical information when it came to the shooter was not shared between agencies that led to a lot of confusion and bullets.

No firefighters or deputies were hurt, but investigators said the outcome could have been catastrophic.

The report said the issues began from the start.

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The 911 dispatcher told first responders this was a drive-by shooting. That assumption led folks on scene to believe the shooter was gone. But the report also found the two agencies responded together but worked independently, and there was lack of a strong incident command and other communication issues.

A deputy on the scene said it was secure and more assumptions were made. When gunfire finally erupted, deputies thought shots were fired. Fire crews thought ammunition was going off in the fire.

It was almost three hours before a unified command was set up.

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Unified command training is in the process of being done, and daily communications between the departments is happening.

There is a change in questions dispatchers ask that will give everyone the information they need immediately.

Both sides said everyone from fire to deputies are on the same page in case there is a next time.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.