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Deputy, sheriff's wife among 4 dead in Fla. shooting

The Associated Press

MARIANNA, Fla. — More than 100 law officers searched the area around a sheriff's home early Wednesday following the shooting deaths of the sheriff's wife, a deputy and two gunmen.

The home of Jackson County sheriff John McDaniel became a crime scene as his wife Mellie, a deputy and two suspects were shot and killed on Tuesday in Marianne, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Authorities said they believe the suspects targeted Jackson County Sheriff John McDaniel's home in Marianna, in the Florida Panhandle.

"The community should not be concerned. We believe this was not a random case," State Attorney Steve Meadows said at a news conference late Tuesday.

Law officers searched the area surrounding McDaniels' home into Wednesday morning, though Meadows said authorities did not believe there were additional suspects. He said the search was being conducted as a precaution.

The shootings began around 5 p.m. when Mellie McDaniel arrived home. The sheriff was notified that "intruders entered the area around his home," Meadows said.

Mellie McDaniel was shot moments later. A deputy also was shot.

Other officers, including the sheriff, arrived and killed the two suspects in an exchange of gunfire, Meadows said. The names of the deputy and the suspects were not released.

Meadows said he could not say whether McDaniel fired his weapon. The sheriff was not injured.

Meadows would not discuss a potential motive for the shootings.

"We believe the sheriff's home was selected and targeted," he said.

Edwin Douglas said he was taking a nap at his brother's house, across the street from the McDaniels', when gunfire awoke him.

"I heard 15 to 20 gunshots," Douglas told The News Herald of Panama City. "It was quite a bit of excitement. About 20 police cars showed up."

McDaniel's father was gunned down while working at a Jackson County gas station in 1980. McDaniel, then a sheriff's deputy, responded to a robbery call to find his father, former Malonen Mayor John P. McDaniel Jr., shot to death. Serial killer Henry Lee Lucas later confessed.

McDaniel spoke at a news conference in 1990 when Lucas was extradited from Texas to Florida.

"We never quit working a murder case," McDaniel said then. "We will always continue to work any and every murder case until we come to a happy conclusion -- that conclusion being the person who committed the heinous crime will go to justice."

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