Highlands County, Florida – Tragedy struck on Tuesday afternoon when a man, later identified as Richard Myron Ham, lost his life after a violent altercation with a deputy and endangering a child by putting him in a fire. The incident unfolded in Sebring, prompting a swift response from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.
In a press release issued by the sheriff’s office, it was revealed that emergency services were dispatched to Bay Blossom Drive in Sebring at approximately 4 p.m. following reports of individuals burning debris on the side of the road. Upon arrival, fire crews were confronted by the armed suspect, Richard Myron Ham, 39, who brandished two metal rods with clear intent to cause harm.
Despite repeated commands from the deputies to surrender, Ham adamantly refused to comply. In an attempt to subdue him, a Taser was deployed, but it proved ineffective against the assailant. Ham defiantly removed the Taser probes from his body and proceeded to strike one of the deputies in the head with a metal bar.
To protect themselves and others, a deputy fired at Ham, critically injuring him. He was immediately transported to a nearby hospital, where he tragically succumbed to his injuries. The injured deputy was also taken to the hospital for treatment and was subsequently released.
Further investigation into the incident revealed a chilling motive behind Ham’s actions. According to the sheriff’s office, Ham and his companion, Lakenya Phillips, 30, believed that Phillips’ 9-year-old son was possessed by a demon. Witnesses reported that Ham callously placed the child into the fire and covered him with a flaming blanket. Luckily, the child managed to escape the ordeal with only minor injuries.
Authorities discovered that Phillips and the child had been reported missing and endangered in Kansas earlier this month. The reasons behind their sudden presence in Florida remain unclear. Additionally, a search of the vehicle used by Ham and Phillips resulted in the discovery of drugs and several firearms.
Ham had a troubling criminal history, having previously been convicted of armed felonies and drug possession in multiple states, including Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia. The sheriff’s office did not provide any further details regarding the nature of these convictions.
As the investigation continues, the community is left shaken by this horrific incident. The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is working diligently to uncover all the facts surrounding this case, aiming to provide justice for the victims involved.