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Sheriff Gee outraged at bail for suspect accused of shooting deputy

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 01:14 AM
TAMPA -

— A judge on Sunday set a $65,000 bail for a former Marine accused of shooting a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy. Circuit Court Judge Chet A. Tharpe also ordered a 24-hour hold so that the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office could appeal.

Matthew Lane Buendia's bail was set at his arraignment for $25,000 on a charge of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, $30,000 on two battery charges and $10,000 on a witness tampering charge.

The sheriff's office said in a press release that Sheriff David Gee was "outraged" by the judge's decision and immediately contacted the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office to file an appeal.

After receiving the appeal, the courts granted a stay, and Buendia's bond was revoked for 24 hours. The sheriff's office on Monday will ask that Buendia be held without bond.

"The sheriff was outraged," sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said. "It was the sentiment across the office.

"He shot a uniformed officer at point-blank range," McKinnon said. "The only reason we aren't planning a funeral right now is because none of the rounds hit vital organs."

Buendia confronted Deputy Lyonelle De Veaux, 35, without provocation, McKinnon said. Buendia fired at least nine rounds at her and then barricaded himself for around five hours, McKinnon said.

"The thought of this guy being released on the street is shocking," McKinnon said.

"Without provocation he ambushed her," McKinnon said. "I couldn't think of any other scenario that could make somebody more dangerous to the community."

Buendia was arrested early Saturday following a standoff at his Tampa apartment complex. According to the sheriff's office, Buendia shot De Veaux late Friday after she responded to a 911 call.

De Veaux, a five-year veteran of the department, was hit twice in the leg and once in the shoulder, the sheriff's office said.

She was hospitalized in good condition and is expected to recover. Doctors on Sunday were trying to determine if she might have surgery to remove a bullet, McKinnon said.

The victim's mother, Martha De Veaux, said her daughter was going through therapy to strengthen her muscles.

She credits her daughter's faith in God as a reason for her strength. Her father was a minister for 26 years and her religious foundation has helped her face this experience, Martha De Veaux said. "Just knowing that God will see her through situations I believe that's her support."

Martha De Veaux, who has been by her daughter's bedside, said she also credits the support of family and friends, including colleagues at the sheriff's office. Deputies have brought her "comfort foods," including candy bars, doughnuts and a chocolate shake.

"She's progressing very, very well. More than they thought she could," said Martha DeVeaux, adding there's no time frame for her recovery. "Her spirits are very good.

"Thank God, her training was of the nature that she did what she was supposed to do," she said. "It's a dangerous job. I know law enforcement is a dangerous job. This came home to me this time."

Among the officers who visited De Veaux on Saturday was Deputy Miguel Galarza, a member of her squad who was shot in the neck in 2009 while responding to a home invasion. He returned to work two weeks later.

"I'm sure the hardest part for her will be to stop reliving it and trying to think of what could have been done better," Galarza said. "But work helps."

The battery and witness tampering charges stem from an alleged incident with Buendia's girlfriend. Buendia was being held at the Hillsborough County jail.

The suspect's father, Richard Buendia, of San Antonio, Texas, said he was sorry about the shooting.

"It's a tragedy," Richard Buendia said Sunday afternoon. "He's a good young man. He's got post-traumatic stress disorder, and he hasn't been treated right. It's a nightmare for the family."

Richard Buendia said if he had a chance he'd embrace De Veaux.

"If I could see her, I'd give her a hug, because she's OK," Richard Buendia said.

Buendia's relatives told television news reporters that the 24-year-old suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following three tours of duty in the Middle East.

"He's an excellent person. This is not like him at all," said Zach Buendia, his brother. "We've tried to get him help, but the VA couldn't give him the help he needed."

Richard Buendia added that the military didn't help his son make the adjustment to civilian life.

"Let me just put it this way. They train him for war and they do a good job in the Marines doing that, and in times of need that's great; but they don't teach them to come down off of it after they're out," Richard Buendia said. "I don't think he understands what had happened to be honest with you. I feel awful. I haven't slept right, worried about the officer, worried about my son.

"He's a good young man, never been in any kind of problems at all."


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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