End of Watch: The Murder of Okaloosa County Deputies Burt Lopez and Skip York

April 25, 2009

From the book, “Some Gave All,” by Mike Simmons, coming soon on Amazon

Burt Lopez and Skip York had many things in common. They were the same age, graduated high school the same year, joined the United States Air Force, retired, and both became Okaloosa County deputies. They also worked side-by-side on the streets.

Burt Lopez

But there were differences. Burt was born in the urban setting of St. Louis, while Skip was from Dehli, Louisiana, a town of less than 2000. While Skip was quick-witted, Burt was calm and reassuring in his demeanor.

Downtown Crestview, Florida

On April 25, 2009, the men responded to a domestic violence complaint in the charming town of Crestview, Florida. They learned that the suspect was at the Shoal River Gun Club, which was located just outside of town. The gun club was a favorite for hundreds of people, including many lawmen. The atmosphere was one that made you feel comfortable and come shoot among friends. The two deputies were familiar with the club, so they went there. When they arrived and tried to reason with the man, he became irate. Unable to get him to calm down, Burt used his taser on the man. The man went down, but came up with a gun and began shooting. Both deputies were wearing their body armor, but the suspect shot Burt in the head and turned the gun on Skip and shot him in the head also. He shot each one a total of four times in areas not covered by body armor. Then he fled.

Skip York

Responding units pursued the suspect along Highway 90 into neighboring Walton County. When the suspect’s truck overturned, he came out shooting. Officers on the scene responded with sixteen bullets in the suspect’s body. However, that was not the cause of death. The coward shot himself and took his own life.

Burt and Skip were taken by Lifeflight helicopter to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola where heroic efforts took place to save their lives. But to no avail. Both men expired that day, and their families have never been the same. Neither would the sheriff’s office. They lost two of their own. Two men that their Captain, Greg Gaddis, described like this, “The were both always cheerful, the kind of men who could make a bad morning into a good morning.” Tragic.


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