‘We will never forget your sacrifice’: 2 Florida deputies die from coronavirus

ORLANDO, Fla. — Two Florida law enforcement officers who tested positive for the coronavirus have died.

Broward County Deputy Shannon Bennett, 39, died Friday, and Palm Beach County Sgt.Jose Diaz Ayala, 38, died Saturday, officials said.

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Broward County Deputy Shannon Bennett

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said Bennett, a 12-year veteran of the agency, reported feeling sick March 23 while at work and tested positive for the virus at a hospital the next day.

Bennett was hospitalized March 27 and had been showing signs of recovery, but his condition worsened Friday, Tony said.

Tony said Saturday that he considers Bennett’s death to be one in the line of duty.

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The agency described Bennett as an “out and proud gay law enforcement deputy” who helped lead an outreach initiative to foster relations between the law enforcement and LGBTQ communities.

He served as a school resource officer at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, where he also mentored students.

Bennett was planning to get married later this year.

Palm Beach County Sgt.Jose Diaz Ayala

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Ayala had been battling other underlying health conditions before contracting COVID-19.

He had been with the agency for 14 years.

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Ayala joined the Sheriff’s Office’s Corrections Division in 2006 as a deputy and was promoted to sergeant in 2016.

“He had an outstanding career with the agency and was respected by all of his peers," Palm Beach County Ric Bradshaw said.

Ayala leaves behind three daughters.

Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.