Saturday, June 09, 2007
Shooting in Sarasota
"Jacquelyn Ferguson knew she was going to be fired when she walked into work at the cardiologist's office Friday morning, deputies say.Whether that ever happened, no one knows.While the two spoke in private, Ferguson, 51, took out a gun and shot and killed her manager, 45-year-old Denise Keyworth.Then, less than three hours later, the woman described as "peaceful" and "against guns" by her neighbors shot herself.A Herald-Tribune editor found Ferguson at her home in Palm-Aire, lying in a lounge chair with a head wound, a black revolver in her lap and a pool of blood on the floor.The two women met last fall, when Ferguson started working for Dr. Jeffrey Sack.But the office environment was troubled. Sack was arrested on drug charges in October, and the Drug Enforcement Administration raided the office.A neighbor said Ferguson was depressed about work and taking medication. Ferguson told a co-worker she could not afford to lose her job.The murder-suicide began unfolding before 9 a.m. at Sack's office on Bee Ridge Road.When Ferguson walked in, the two other employees in the room left to give her privacy to speak with Keyworth. They, too, had heard that Ferguson would be fired.Moments later, they heard gunshots. They ran to a neighboring office."They heard bumping noises, multiple gunshots and one short scream," said Dave Jones, the manager of the adjacent Center for Angiography. "They were seeking refuge."They called the police. They called Dr. Sack.Fearing the shooter would come to his office next, Jones locked patients and nurses in rooms in his office.Outside, police crouched on cars and rooftops. They closed off heavily traveled Bee Ridge Road between Tuttle Avenue and Lockwood Ridge Road. The nearby Church of the Palms preschool on Bee Ridge went into lockdown.Working on the assumption that Ferguson would be in the back of the building, deputies asked everyone in Jones' office to huddle in a big group and shuffle out the front door."It was a little bit shaky," Jones said of the moment when they had to leave the locked office, unsure if the shooter was still next door. "We had to pass by the SWAT team with our arms in the air."Before the building was evacuated, there were about a dozen people inside. Emergency and law enforcement officials rushed Sack's office.Keyworth was dead. And Ferguson was gone.Killer described as quietDeputies from Manatee and Sarasota counties were stationed in Ferguson's neighborhood waiting for a warrant to search her home, and waiting for her return to the one-story gray house and pool.They did not realize she was already inside, dead on the lanai.Friends and neighbors said Ferguson was calm, with a penchant for exotic pet birds and holistic medicine."She was always ready to help out when you go on vacation or anything," said Jessie Laiken, who lived across the street.Ferguson was unmarried and did not have a boyfriend, friends said. She did not want a relationship."She really keeps to herself," said Shyla Roberts.Ferguson was from Maryland and had two sons living in the Washington, D.C., area, Roberts said.A few months after she started at Sack's office, Ferguson accepted an invitation to eat Christmas dinner at Keyworth's home in Sarasota.Family members of Keyworth gathered there Friday afternoon. They said they were not ready to talk to the media.Keyworth worked for Sack for a "number of years," according to court documents, but left in February of 2005.She started a business called Making Dollars & Sense Inc. in October 2005, and filed an annual report with the state for the business in April. The number for the business has been disconnected.She was rehired to work for Sack in May of 2006.Police say Sack illegally ordered a medicine used to treat drug dependency. Because the medicine can be abused, doctors need a special authorization from the DEA to order and dispense it.Sack lacked that authorization, according to case documents.He was arrested last year after a federal sting.Reached this morning at his Tampa office, Sack's attorney, John M. Fitzgibbons, said he expected the trial to clear Sack's record.Sack also has a previous conviction in federal court for prescription drug fraud, stemming from the 1996 purchase of a painkiller under a false identity. He was sentenced to three years' probation and fined $7,000.Wearing cut-off jeans and driving a Mercedes-Benz, Sack arrived at the scene just after 9 a.m. Friday and was escorted to the command center.Attempts to reach him Friday were unsuccessful."