Fire Chief Brian Keith Easterling charged with murder

Brian Keith Easterling appears in a mugshot

A Florida fire chief has been arrested and charged in connection with the death of a business owner who was shot late last week, and authorities say surveillance video tells the story of the crime.

Brian Keith Easterling52, is charged with first-degree murder Thursday, June 2, 2022, which included the shooting death of the 63-year-old man who ran a store on Creighton Road in Pensacola, Fla. The defendant is specifically charged with first degree murder.

According to an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office press release on social media, deputies found the victim “shot dead at his shop” on Sunday, June 5, 2022.

“Surveillance footage from the store showed the murder unfolding,” ECSO claimed. “Brian Keith Easterling walked into the store and shot the store owner dead over a dispute over previous business deals in which the victim allegedly owed Easterling money.”

ECSO has not yet released the identity of the victim.

The store in question is a Texaco garage and gas station, according to local news website, which obtained a copy of the defendant’s arrest report.

Pensacola police reportedly conducted a social check on the owner at his home and found blood but no body. Officers then responded to the store, where an officer reportedly tripped over something under a car cover, resulting in the victim’s elbow being exposed. The victim is said to have been discovered face down on the ground – with a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

“Easterling actually makes a complete circle and looks around before entering the building,” the ECSO arrest report said. “Within minutes of entering the building, Easterling comes up behind (the victim),” the report said. The victim “then immediately falls to the ground. Easterling is seen on video getting a car cover and covering (the victim).”

According to Pensacola ABC affiliate WEAR, the sheriff’s department confirmed that Easterling was the chief of the Baker Fire District.

The investigation into the murder quickly made work to determine both the suspect and his whereabouts. Escambia County deputies told the TV station that Easterling was found Sunday night at his home in Holt, Fla. with help from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The defendant was arrested around 3:00 a.m. Monday morning and sent to the Okaloosa Couny Jail. He was extradited to Escambia County on Monday afternoon, where he is being held without bail.

Brian Keith Easterling appears in his official photo for the Baker Fire District

Brian Keith Easterling appears in his official photo for the Baker Fire District

That Pensacola NewsJournal reports that the defendant has worked for the BFD since 2005 and became head of the volunteer agency covering approximately 90 square miles of Okaloosa County in 2019. The district has a single station. Prior to his time there, he reportedly worked for the Eglin Air Force Base Fire Department.

The newspaper reported that a BFD representative, at least initially, said they had no information on Easterling’s status.

That has recently changed.

The BFD addressed the incident with the now “suspended” boss in a statement submitted to Law&Crime.

“At 2:30 p.m. today, the Bake Fire District Board of Commissioners suspended Brian Keith Easterling from his duties as department chief,” the statement said. “Deputy Chief Mark McKenzie was appointed Acting Fire Chief.”

The next regular board meeting of the BFD is currently scheduled for June 22, 2022.

[image via Okaloosa County Jail]

Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected] Fire Chief Brian Keith Easterling charged with murder

James Brien

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