BONIFAY, Fla (WDHN)— Investigators with the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office are looking into what led up to a deadly hotel shooting early Monday morning that killed a 45-year-old Chipley man.
According to Holmes County Sheriff John Tate, at around 3:20 a.m., deputies rushed to the Holiday Inn Express and Suites and found a victim, identified as Steven Lamar Hall, laying on the floor of a room with a gunshot wound to the leg.
EMS also responded to the scene and transported Hall to Doctors Memorial Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries. While on the scene, deputies interviewed a woman who was in the room with Hall and called 911.
Sheriff Tate says the woman, identified as 59-year-old Lois Kay Merkle, of Panama City, told deputies she was removing a handgun from a safe in the room when it discharged, hitting Hall.
Merkle was taken to the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office to be interviewed and deputies continued talking to hotel staff and guests.
Just talking with some people at the hotel and talking with her at the office, there are some things that doesn’t line up.Holmes County Sheriff John Tate
According to Sheriff Tate, during a search of the hotel room, deputies found illegal narcotics, and Merkle, who is still in custody for further questioning, will most likely face charges for the narcotics, and after the investigation is over, Tate’s department will present their evidence to the state attorney’s office to determine additional charges related to the shooting.
Tate says his department is working on obtaining search warrants for Merkle and Hall’s cell phones for any digital evidence.
The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Emergency Management Services, and the state attorney’s office all responded to the scene.