Murder suspect was arrested at church service where sheriff was guest speaker, deputies say

John Skeen shot and killed a man amid a fishing trip, deputies said. (Mugshot: Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

A murder suspect was arrested in church during a service in which the local sheriff was speaking, according to deputies.

Deputies there claim three friends were staying at a residence in the community of Ruskin on Friday for a fishing trip. There was an argument that lead up to the shooting, officials said.

“That evening, the three went to a local bar and later returned home,” deputies said. “A verbal altercation ensued between the victim and Skeen. During the verbal altercation, the suspect discharged a firearm, which struck the victim, resulting in his death.”

Skeen had shot the man in the upper body. The victim was pronounced dead at a local hospital, authorities said.

Deputies said that Skeen was a resident of Polk City in Polk County, Florida.

According to the arrest affidavit, a Polk County deputy said he checked Skeen’s home first to find him, but discovered through a tip that he was at 5995 Green Pond Road in Polk City, documents stated. That’s the address for the Green Pond Baptist Church.

It’s where Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was a guest speaker Sunday morning, authorities said.

“Deputies managed to get Skeen outside of the church without disrupting the service,” the Polk County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook. “Skeen asked Sergeant Evans (the same sergeant who made news last week by assisting a woman giving birth in her car) if he could go back inside for the rest of the service so he could ‘dedicate his life to the Lord before going to jail.’ Of course there was no way Sgt Evans could allow that, but the sergeant told Skeen that they could take a moment to pray together before going to the Sheriff’s Processing Center to be booked-in.”

“What should have been a fun fishing trip filled with great memories, turned into a tragic weekend,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister of the murder case. “Violence is never the solution to a disagreement. Our hearts are with this victim’s family and we hope this arrest will bring some sense of closure to the loved ones.”

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