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Vol. Firefighter Arrested on Witnessed Murder Charge

It Doesn't Look Like He'll Ever Get Out, Either.

MICHAEL RICE, A VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER IN OCONEE COUNTY, South Carolina, was vacationing in Sarasota, Florida, last weekend when he inexplicably shot a man dead in cold blood.

Michael Rice

According to witness reports and surveillance tapes, Rice was sitting at a bar in Bentley's Resort Hotel on Saturday next to a man he had never met before when he pulled a handgun out of his waistband and shot the man point-blank in the head.  The victim, Phil Nahon died immediately on the barroom floor.  WYFF-TV in Spartanburg, So. Carolina, reported:

Sarasota County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Wendy Rose told News 4 Michael Rice didn't know his victim, Phil Nahon. Rose said there was no fight leading up to the murder and said Rice was "there to shoot someone that day."

Rice is a volunteer firefighter in Oconee County.

In a statement, Oconee County Fire Chief Charlie King said, "Michael Rice has been suspended indefinitely, pending the outcome of his court proceedings. Michael received a clear background check in 2008 and has received no discipline actions against him."

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune posted this video report that includes the bartender's 9-1-1 call reporting the shooting:

 

WTSP-TV Tampa added:

A patron at the bar told Sarasota deputies that around 2:36 p.m. Saturday Michael Rice, 23, was at the tiki bar in the pool area when he pulled out a gun and told Philippe Nahon to sit down. When Nahon refused, Rice shot him in the head.  The witness said Rice then walked around the pool area and returned to the bar with the gun in his hand.

Detectives say video surveillance shows Rice with the gun, walking through the bar area and taking a drink from the liquor bottle stock. He is then seen leaving the back of the bar area and putting the gun on a table.

Responding deputies found Rice at the front of the hotel and arrested him without incident.  Rice was charged with first degree murder. Investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the shooting.

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