HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (CW44 News At 10) – The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) following an in-custody death that occurred on Friday afternoon.
At 3:10 pm on Friday, July 17, deputies were called to the Waffle House located at 11244 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd in Seffner for a report of a suspect burglarizing vehicles.
An employee of the restaurant said he spotted a white male breaking into his car in the parking lot. The employee went outside and confronted the man while he was still inside his car. The employee said the suspect walked away from him and continued attempting to enter vehicles, pulling at the door handle of another vehicle in the parking lot occupied by a woman and two small children. The woman locked her doors and began yelling for help.
HCSO deputies arrived as the suspect was walking away from the woman’s vehicle.
Deputies detained Gary Wollnick, 36, for suspicion of burglary as they worked to gather statements from all parties involved. Wollnick was put in handcuffs without a struggle, then placed in the back of a patrol vehicle. Shortly after, deputies noticed Wollnick was in medical distress and began slumping over in his seat. Deputies immediately called EMS. Wollnick was transported by ambulance to Brandon Regional Hospital where he later died.
HCSO has requested the FDLE conduct an independent investigation into the incident in accordance with a new policy related to in-custody deaths.
“There was no violence by deputies and no struggle by the suspect at the time of detainment that resulted in this unfortunate death,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “We are committed to trust through transparency, and that is why the FDLE is being brought in to investigate. I made an agreement last month, along with several local law enforcement leaders, to continue working to strengthen public trust through our actions. I believe this independent investigation is another step towards that goal.”
Investigators will work to determine if the death is medical-related. No additional details are available at this time. Any further information will be released through a press release.