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Date of Issue: January 07, 2009

Gun incident preceded suicide/attempted murder

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Jeremiah Edland

Less than a month before Jeremiah Edland shot a Bradenton man and then killed himself, he was involved in an alleged shooting incident in Holmes Beach.

Edland, 32, of Holmes Beach, took his life Dec. 29 after critically wounding Chris Sharts in an altercation at a home in the 4100 block of 78th Street West, Bradenton. Edland went to the home to see his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Swafford, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

On Dec. 4, another gun incident was reported, this one on Anna Maria Island.

Swafford notified the Holmes Beach Police Department that she and Edland were arguing and that as she ran away, she heard a gunshot.

The incident, according to a report from HBPD, occurred at about 9 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Bank of America on Manatee Avenue in Holmes Beach.

In an incident report, HBPD Officer Michael Walker wrote that he was dispatched to the 900 block of Manatee Avenue to assist the Bradenton Police Department in a possible shooting.

He said Swafford then told him that she and Edland had a verbal argument in a car in the bank parking lot, and that “Edland broke her cell phone then pulled out a gun, loaded it and threatened to commit suicide.”

Swafford said she got out of the car and started to run east on Manatee Avenue, according to the report. She said that’s when she heard a gunshot.

Walker wrote that in an interview with police, Swafford “was very evasive when answering questions” about Edland. Officers took her to her home on the mainland while other officers searched for Edland.

Later on Dec. 4, Walker said he went to Edland’s apartment in the 4100 block of Gulf Drive, where Edland said the argument with Swafford took place.

“Edland stated that he picked up Swafford in the 600 block of Manatee Avenue, then the two went back to his apartment for a few drinks,” Walker wrote.

“Edland stated that shortly after the two were involved in a verbal argument. Edland then stated he had a shotgun … in his hand when it went off, firing a round into the wall. Edland stated the discharge was accidental.”

Edland also said “he never had the intention of putting Swafford or himself in danger,” but “he made a threat of doing harm to himself in the heat of the moment and that he has never thought of actually doing harm to himself.”

Walker, in his report, concluded, “I did not find any evidence that Edland would do harm to himself or anyone else.”

The MCSO last week continued to investigate the Dec. 29 shooting, classified as a suicide-attempted murder.

Sharts, meanwhile, continued his recovery. He arrived at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg on Dec. 29 in critical condition. On Dec. 31, a hospital spokeswoman said Sharts’ condition was stable.

The MCSO reported that three juveniles were in the home at the time of the shooting Dec. 29.