LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland police said they shot and killed a man Sunday morning after witnessing him shoot a woman in a townhome parking lot.  

What You Need To Know

  •  Lakeland police responded to a domestic call on Walt Loop Road at 6:25 a.m. Sunday

  •  Once there, they opened fire on the suspect in the case after witnessing him shoot a female victim

  • The suspect died at the scene, and the woman was later pronounced dead at the hospital

No officers were injured. The woman shot was taken to an area hospital in critical condition before succumbing to her injuries. 

According to Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia, three officers responded to the Cobblestone Landing Townhomes property on Walt Loop Road at 6:25 a.m. 

"As officers arrived on the scene, they observed a man with a handgun and a woman standing outside the residence in the parking area," investigators said in a statement released Sunday afternoon. "As the female turned toward the direction of one of the officers, the suspect pointed his gun and shot the female victim."

Officer Brent Behrens, a 3-year veteran at the Lakeland Police Department, returned fire, killing the man, who was later identified as 35-year-old Howayne T. Gayle.

Detectives later learned that Gayle and the victim had been in a romantic relationship, but recently broke up. 

"Gayle came to the townhome this morning and broke into the residence after he was not allowed entry into the home," the statement said. "Inside the home were the victim and her 19-year-old daughter."

The police response was justified, Garcia said.

"Officers reacted to the violence against the woman," he said.

The area where the shooting was reported is usually very quiet, Garcia added.

"(It's) an unusual call in this neighborhood," he said. "We don't have many calls for service out here at all."

Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to contact Detective Laura Dunn at 863-834-6974 or by email at

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can contact Heartland Crimestoppers Florida at 800-226-TIPS (8477).

Per department protocol, Behrens was place on administrative leave with pay as the shooting of Gayle is investigated.