FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A veteran deputy at the Broward Sheriff's Office has died after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
BSO announced early Saturday that Deputy Shannon Bennett, a 12-year veteran, died late Friday night.
It is with a sad and heavy heart that we announce the passing of Deputy Shannon Bennett due to COVID-19.— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) April 4, 2020
Deputy Bennett served BSO for more than 12 years and was a fine deputy and individual. (1/2) #TeamBSO pic.twitter.com/ywl32BAiAz
Local 10′s Roy Ramos spoke to Bennett’s friends Saturday and they said that the deputy was passionate about bridging the gap between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement. After the PULSE nightclub shooting in Orlando in June of 2016, he would park his patrol car outside of bars and restaurants in the Wilton Manors neighborhood and say, ‘No one is going to mess with my friends.’ “That was the type of person he was," they said.
Tim Martin, the former chairman of the Gay Softball League, SFAAA, said: “He had his whole life ahead of him.”
On Saturday, flowers were left next to the deputy’s police car. A long line of cars and law enforcement presence could be seen outside of his home.
“Shannon Bennett was the kind of guy who would put his family first, his friends second, and himself last,” said Martin.
Deputy Bennett was assigned as a school resource officer for Deerfield Beach Elementary School.
He first reported feeling sick on March 23. A day later, he tested positive for the virus, and despite friends and family saying he was appearing to get better, he passed away Friday night.
On Friday, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said BSO had 21 employees who have tested positive with the virus; Deputy Bennett was one of those 21.
“We are not immune to it and we can fall victim to it as well,” said Tony.
Sheriff Tony gave an emotional plea with the public to practice social distancing and stay home unless absolutely needed in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. He said that Bennett’s death should serve as a reminder of the risk that his deputies put themselves in when people fail to heed the warnings of stay at home.
“I ask that you keep Shannon’s family members in your prayers, but keep Shannon within your heart,” said Sheriff Gregory Tony. His legacy will be carried on in our performance.”
Jeff Bell, the president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Association, told Local 10 that deputies were not properly equipped to battle the pandemic locally and they have voiced concerns.
The association released this statement: “You must have the proper equipment in order to defeat your enemy. The passing of Deputy Bennett is now highlighting the need for the proper PPE equipment in the field.”
BSO’s public information officer, Miranda Grossman, released this statement on behalf of the sheriff’s department.
“...BSO is faced with the harsh reality that supply chains which provide important protective equipment are facing diminished capacity. We continue to leverage relationships with vendors and community partners. We are monitoring our resources and providing guidance to our staff on the recommended use of personal protective equipment.”
Bennett, 39, worked out of BSO’s Deerfield Beach substation.
Deputy Bennett was on duty when he first reported his symptoms. Sheriff Tony considers his passing an in the line of duty death.
“We lost a man in the line of duty, and we’re probably going to lose another,” Tony said.
Bennett was planning on being married in December and was getting ready to foster a child, according to Martin.