Riviera Beach officer shot to death after attacking ex-wife's boyfriend
An off-duty Riviera Beach police officer was shot to death early Sunday morning after breaking into an apartment belonging to his estranged wife's boyfriend, sheriff's officials said.
Robert C. Beck Jr., 34, died at the scene of the shooting at the Banyan Club Apartments near Gun Club and Haverhill roads in suburban West Palm Beach, sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller said. Beck was shot after breaking a window at the apartment and climb-ing into a bedroom, apparently armed with his service weapon, Miller said.
Johnnie Rollins, who investigators said is Josette Beck's boyfriend, appeared to have fired the shots in self-defense, Miller said.
Beck was charged Oct. 16 with aggravated battery on his pregnant 34-year-old wife, which led to divorce proceedings, according to Beck's arrest report. The status of that domestic violence case couldn't be determined Sunday.
When sheriff's investigators were called to Rollins' apartment shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday, it was the second time in a week. Deputies were also called to the apartment on Wednesday but said Beck was gone when they arrived.
Deputies were called Saturday after a report that Beck was pounding on windows and doors and threatening Rollins. Beck left before deputies arrived, and Josette Beck was taken back to her home in the 4800 block of Pine Cone Lane in suburban West Palm Beach.
Reached a short time later on his cellular phone by a deputy, Robert Beck denied being at the apartment. Deputies then contacted Riviera Beach police, who ordered Beck to report to the station on Monday.
Instead, he went to his wife's home, got inside, and threatened his wife and 2-month-old child with his department-issued gun, sheriff's investigators said.
He again left before deputies arrived. A Riviera Beach police sergeant called Beck's cell phone twice and ordered him to report to the police station immediately.
"[Josette Beck] was scared, so she went back to [Rollins' apartment] with the four children," Miller said.
Fearing the trouble wasn't over, Rollins called his mother to pick up the youngest child, a 2-month-old boy. Josette Beck stayed at the apartment with the three other children, all girls ranging in age from 7 to 12.
At 2:40 a.m., Rollins told deputies he heard a window break and saw someone jump inside the apartment. Rollins, 22, a sheet metal worker, fired several shots from a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle at Beck, striking him several times, Miller said. A loaded .40-caliber Glock handgun with a round in the chamber
-- thought to be Beck's service weapon -- was found near his body.
The Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office will review the shooting to determine whether it was self-defense. Rollins was not in custody or facing any charges Sunday.
Sgt. Pat Galligan, spokesman for Riviera Beach police, said Sunday he didn't know whether Beck had faced any disciplinary action for the October domestic violence arrest.
The Becks were set to have their divorce finalized on March 28, Miller said. Robert Beck, who most recently was a K-9 officer, had been with the department about three years, Miller said.
Peter Franceschina can be reached at 561-832-2894.
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