PENSACOLA, Fla. – A fire chief in Florida was taken into custody and charged in connection with the murder of a business owner who was shot and killed last week.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said Brian Keith Easterling is accused of murdering a 63-year-old man last Thursday. The homicide victim ran a shop on Creighton Road in Pensacola, Law&Crime reported.
Easterling, 52, is charged with first-degree murder in what authorities say was a premeditated act where “surveillance video from the shop showed how the homicide unfolded.”
Deputies found the victim — whose identity has not been released — “shot to death inside his business” on Sunday, June 5, 2022, although the murder occurred on Thursday, June 2, 2022, according to officials.
“Brian Keith Easterling entered the business and shot the business owner over a dispute about prior business deals, where the victim allegedly owed Easterling money,” surveillance video showed, ECSO said in a press statement.
The shop in question is a Texaco garage and filling station, according to local news website NorthEscambia.com.
Pensacola Police were asked to perform a welfare check on the business owner at his home. In doing so, officers discovered blood, but no body. Hence, law enforcement personnel responded to the shop where they discovered the victim’s body, face down on the ground, with a gunshot wound to the back of his head.
“Easterling actually turns a complete circle looking all around, before entering the building,” the news outlet reported, citing ECSO’s arrest report.
“Within minutes of entering the building, Easterling walks up behind (the victim),” the report states. The victim “then falls immediately to the ground. Easterling can be seen on video getting a car cover and covering (the victim).”
Easterling was located Sunday night at his residence in Holt, Florida, by deputies of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. He was subsequently taken into custody and booked at the Okaloosa County Jail.
Brian Keith Easterling (Okaloosa County Jail)
The defendant was transferred to the Escambia County Jail Monday afternoon where he was being held without bond.
According to Pensacola WEAR-TV, the sheriff’s department confirmed that Easterling was the chief of the Baker Fire District. He was formally suspended from his position Monday afternoon.