More information is emerging about the woman who was killed by off-duty law enforcement officers in Hernando County Saturday afternoon.
The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said Hernando detective Rocky Howard, 31, and Tampa police officer William Mechler, 26, were off-duty and attending the gathering when the woman, who has been identified as Inga Marie Swanson, 42, showed up and approached them, acting irrationally.
Deputies said Swanson left, then returned with a weapon a short while later. That’s when investigators said one or both of the officers opened fire, killing the woman.
Men encountered Swanson before shooting
Now two men who said they saw Swanson shortly before the deadly confrontation are coming forward, and they said they have photographs to prove it.
Exclusive cell phone pictures shows Swanson walking in a wooded area in Spring Hill. Al Eylward and Robert Collins said they ran into her shortly before she was shot Saturday.
“She was literally walking down the road straight at us,” Collins said. “So, we pulled up alongside of her, and at that point I looked out the window and I asked her, I said, ‘Are you alright?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, but I’m a little bit confused.'”
Collins said the woman then walked away into the wooded area, and they snapped the photos of her. They said they took the photos, thinking that no one would believe them without photographic evidence that they had seen the woman.
A short time later, while the men were looking at a home, they said Swanson walked inside with a cross in her hands.
“She held the cross up and made a circle like this and said, ‘Antichrist, Antichrist, this meeting is over,'” Eylward said. “And as she did that she stopped, turned around and walked back.”
Collins said they never felt like they were in danger from her.
“At no time did any of us ever feel threatened and the only thing we ever saw in her hand was the cross,” he said.
Collins and Eylward said that about 15 minutes later, Swanson was shot and killed. They said they feel awful for everyone involved.
“This is a tragedy,” Eylward said. “It is, it really is. I had a friend that I was explaining this to and she asked me why I didn’t call the cops right then and there, and as she said that it occurred to me that I should have. I should’ve called the cops.”
“I feel condolences for her family and for the officers as well,” Collins said. “The officer or officers that shot her or felt that they needed to, they’re going to have to live with this for the rest of their lives.”
Woman’s boyfriend: She thought the ‘end times were near’
David Simpson, who described himself as Swanson’s boyfriend, said she was very religious and that she thought “the end times were near.” He said she had attended Bible study earlier in the week.
Simpson said deputies found the cross that Collins and Eylward said Swanson had been carrying inside his home after the shooting. Simpson said the investigators told him she had left the cross in his home and taken his antique gun.
The gun is what Simpson said the off-duty officers saw her wielding when they opened fire. Simpson said the gun is very old, that it holds one bullet and that it doesn’t fire.
Simpson said deputies had him identify Swanson’s body and the antique gun on Sunday.
Deputies have not confirmed that Swanson was holding the antique gun at the time of the shooting.