(left) Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden and (right) Corporal Ray Hamilton (Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office)

“Rocked to our core:” Okaloosa Sheriff Eric Aden speaks on tragic loss of Corporal Ray Hamilton

(left) Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden and (right) Corporal Ray Hamilton (Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office)

As previously reported, an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputy lost his life on Saturday, December 24 when a domestic violence suspect opened fire on responding deputies from inside his residence.

  • When deputies arrived to the home in Fort Walton Beach, the subject barricaded himself inside the home and refused to cooperate with authorities. In response, the Sheriff’s Office called in their Special Response Team, of which Corporal Ray Hamilton was a member. 

Despite efforts by the crisis negotiation team to peacefully resolve the situation, the individual inside chose to use deadly force and shot Corporal Hamilton, according to Sheriff Aden. Hamilton was rushed to the hospital, but unfortunately succumbed to his injuries.

“We are just rocked to our core, heartbroken,” said Aden this week during a press conference. “He was a proud member of this agency and a well loved member. He was probably the most popular field training officer we’ve ever had.”

Aden continued by saying that in the short tenure that Hamilton had at the OCSO, he made a big impact. He also praised the strength of Corporal Hamilton’s wife, saying she “is probably the strongest person I’ve ever met, and I garnered strength from her.”

  • “Having to discuss this with her upon her arrival at the hospital is probably the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. And she was just strong, very strong,” he said.

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The community has shown an outpouring of support for the Sheriff’s Office and Corporal Hamilton’s family, with calls coming in from across the country. Sheriff Aden said “the support that we get in this community is second to none. It truly is amazing”

Corporal Hamilton joined the OCSO in 2017, starting out as a part-time employee before becoming a full-timer and eventually a crime scene investigator. He quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to corporal in November of this year, according to Aden.

In addition to his duties as a field training officer, Corporal Hamilton was also a member of the Special Response Team and had received two lifesaving awards. In 2019, he talked a woman off of a roof and saved her life, and in March of this year he performed CPR to save another person’s life.

  • He was also recognized for his efforts on the D.U.I. Task Force, receiving the Excellence Award for his work.

Corporal Hamilton will be placed on OCSO’s Memorial Wall and will be honored at the state level. “Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve will never be the same for us,” he told reporters.

Sheriff Aden emphasized the importance of remembering Corporal Hamilton and honoring his service. 

  • “Unfortunately, these things don’t get easier, they get harder every time,” said Aden. “To lose one to such a violent, senseless act is just unbearable to say the least. We’ll go through the steps of trying to honor him the best we can.”

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