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News and Investigations

News & Investigations

News Releases and Public Information

Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.

PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at

The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.

Aug 22, 2020

PCSO detectives investigating fatal shooting in Auburndale

Media Contact: Carrie Horstman, PIO

The Polk County Sheriff's Office is investigating a fatal shooting that occurred in the unincorporated area of Auburndale. Preliminary information so far is as follows (and a full briefing of these events is available on the PCSO Facebook page as a live video dated August 22, 2020

During the late evening hours of Friday, August 21, 2020, four friends (two men and two women) went to a pool hall in Lakeland to hang out. They left the pool hall and went to a liquor store where they purchased a bottle of whiskey, then drove to a house on Ellie Road in Auburndale. The house belonged to one of the two women. They arrived around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 22, 2020.

Around 6:00 a.m., the other woman (not the homeowner) and her live-in boyfriend - 34-year-old Joshua Mathieu - got into a heated argument. Mathieu's friend (witness) told Mathieu that they needed to leave, in an attempt to de-escalate the argument. The two men left, but Mathieu, who was still angry, decided he was going back to the house because he wanted his girlfriend to come home with him. 

Mathieu immediately began banging and kicking the front door, demanding that his girlfriend come out. He then went to the car, where the witness was still sitting and observing everything, and got a tire iron. He used the tire iron to break out a front window on the house, screaming and irate, and threatening to kill the two women inside. 

The homeowner retrieved her handgun, and fired towards the suspect, who was forcibly breaking into the house. She then called 911. When first responders arrived, Mathieu was deceased. 

Joshua Mathieu has a criminal history dating back to 2010, including several battery arrests (in 2013, 2015, and 2019), two burglaries, and several disorderly conduct arrests. The investigation is ongoing.