Cross-state procession held for Hillsborough deputy shot to death on vacation

TAMPA — Tears rolled down the cheeks of deputies Wednesday afternoon as they saluted a hearse pulling into District 3 of the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office.

Inside was the body of Abigail Bieber, a 30-year-old deputy shot to death by her detective boyfriend Saturday while they vacationed with other deputies in St. Augustine.

Deputy Abigail Bieber, 30, was fatally shot Saturday night in St. Augustine. She had worked with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office since February 2018. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office ]

Bieber’s mother, Sarah Bieber, wept when the hearse arrived. She approached a poster photo of her daughter, carrying flowers, and placed them atop a Sheriff’s Office truck before pulling the poster tight to her chest.

Deputies stood at attention as a bagpipe played. Once given the order to be at ease, many of them wept, too, consoling each other while approaching the photo.

Master Deputy Jonathan Lord, left, and Deputy Rashida Garcia share a hug Wednesday at the sheriff's District 3 office as they mourn slain Deputy Abigail Bieber.
Master Deputy Jonathan Lord, left, and Deputy Rashida Garcia share a hug Wednesday at the sheriff’s District 3 office as they mourn slain Deputy Abigail Bieber. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

The stop at District 3, 7202 Gunn Hwy in Citrus Park, was a brief one for a motorcade carrying Bieber’s body from St. Augustine to a funeral home in Clearwater.

Joining the procession across the state were her two brothers, both officers from the Clearwater Police Department — Ben and Daniel Bieber.

Also present at Wednesday’s procession were Bieber’s father, Bruce Bieber, and her German shepherd, Louie.

Sarah Bieber, left, and Bruce Bieber, approach a hearse carrying the body of their daughter, slain Deputy Abigail Bieber.  With them is Abigail Bieber's German Shepherd, Louie.
Sarah Bieber, left, and Bruce Bieber, approach a hearse carrying the body of their daughter, slain Deputy Abigail Bieber. With them is Abigail Bieber’s German Shepherd, Louie. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Bieber worked as a patrol officer in northwest Hillsborough and was a passionate advocate for child victims, often responding to calls related to sexual battery and child abuse, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. She aspired to work as a detective with the office’s Special Victims Section.

Bieber was killed Saturday at a rental beach home in St. Augustine. Hillsborough Detective Daniel Leyden, 31, fatally shot her and then himself after others in the home heard the two arguing in a bedroom, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Related: Hillsborough Deputy Slain in Murder Suicide Was ‘Bright Spot in a Dark World’

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has released few details about the shooting and didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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Before hearing gunfire, neighbors saw deputies evacuating people through the second-story windows of the beach rental and calling for a man inside to come out with his hands on his head.

Speaking before the arrival of the hearse at District 3, Sheriff Chad Chronister said Bieber’s death was the result of domestic violence and not a mental health issue.

“This is that horrific, tragic crime of anger and passion, and that’s what needs to stop,” Chronister said.

Funeral arrangements for Bieber have not yet been released.

A hearse carrying the body of slain Deputy Abigail Bieber passes the Hillsborough sheriff's District 3 office in Citrus Park on Wednesday.
A hearse carrying the body of slain Deputy Abigail Bieber passes the Hillsborough sheriff’s District 3 office in Citrus Park on Wednesday. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

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