SEBRING — In the weeks and months leading to when Floyd Gene Hodge Jr. shot at neighborhood houses, he acted increasingly bizarre, his wife, Lisa, told authorities in March, according to records released this week by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.
Apparently convinced that demons had taken over her husband’s body, Lisa Hodge told authorities she conducted “deliverances” on two occasions to remove the bad spirits, the report said.
When they didn’t work and the problems continued, Hodge told deputies she planned to file on March 10 papers to have him committed to receive mental health treatment, the records state.
But, on March 9, Floyd Gene Hodge went on a rampage early in the morning, up and down Plantation Drive where he lived, shooting at houses and cars, including Highlands County patrol vehicles.
Ultimately, sheriff’s office Sgt. John Singha fatally shot him, as authorities said he was attempting to shoot two deputies who had arrived earlier and also posed a continuing threat to his neighbors. An internal affairs report concluded the shooting was justified.
Hodge’s wife told authorities that on Nov. 13, 2013, he arrived home and told her he was seeing demons on the neighbor’s house, and asked her if she could see them, too, the report said.
The wife also relayed that on another night, “the decedent dressed up in military gear” and told her he saw Chinese troops outside the house, the report said.
She said he would also put on military gear and say he was preparing war, and accuse neighbors of beaming microwave radiation at him, the report said.
On March 5, 2014, the report said, the wife said that Hodge “smashed the television and Xbox, and eventually tried to burn the television.”
A day before the shooting incident that led to Hodge’s death, he shot his gun in his house, his wife told investigators.
The next night, authorities received numerous 911 calls about Hodge shooting at houses. One woman said she would remain on the floor until she knew he was arrested, the report said.
Although the reports indicate that after deputies arrived, Hodge was asked several times to surrender, he either ignored the requests or said “no.”
While Lisa Hodge told authorities she suspected her husband was using methamphetamine and that he previously had drug problems, the report concluded he tested negative for commonly abused drugs and alcohol.
Following the incident, authorities found on Hodge’s property “countless rounds of ammunition,” and 14 firearms, including handguns and high-powered assault rifles.”
On his computer, investigators found Internet searches relating to aliens, military surplus, militias in Florida, Syria freedom fighters, the New World Order, Armageddon and Illuminati, which is described as a group of secret societies conspiring to control world affairs, the report said.
Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton said that a positive that came out of the tragic event was a set of recommendations to improve how the sheriff’s office deals with any future similar situation.
One problem, the report notes, was that Singha initially ended up at Old Plantation Avenue instead of Plantation Drive. During that period of time, the report said, the other two deputies thought during the dark fogginess of the early morning he was at Plantation Drive, the report said.
It notes that Highlands County doesn’t conform to the National Emergency Number Association standards that call for eliminating street names that are duplications or close to that. The report recommends asking the Highlands County Commission to deal with that issue.
Benton said the review of the incident also discovered that deputies, for a period of time, used their cell phones to converse. In years past, she said, they did that to have private conversations because radio traffic could be heard on scanners.
But, now with the radio traffic being encrypted — and that eliminates that reason for using cell phones — the disadvantage to using cell phones is that other deputies can’t hear what is going on, Benton said.
The report also says that currently the policy on how to respond to an active shooter is limited to schools or another public/commercial facility. The report recommends broadening the policy to include other private or public locations.