updated 1/31/2007 3:28:08 PM ET 2007-01-31T20:28:08

Investigators were trying to determine Wednesday why two people shot and killed a sheriff’s wife and a deputy before officers killed the suspects at the sheriff’s home.

The Tuesday evening attack apparently targeted the home of Jackson County Sheriff John McDaniel and his wife, Mellie McDaniel.

“The community should not be concerned. We believe this was not a random case,” State Attorney Steve Meadows said at a news conference late Tuesday.

Meadows declined to discuss a motive. Officials set an evening news conference Wednesday.

More than 100 officers searched the area surrounding the McDaniels’ home into early Wednesday, although most had left by late morning. Meadows said authorities did not believe there were other attackers, but the search was conducted as a precaution.

The shootings began around 5 p.m. when Mellie McDaniel arrived home. She managed to call her husband’s office and report intruders in the area, but she and one of the deputies sent to the house were killed, said Joe Grammer, a spokesman for Meadows.

Sheriff safe
Other officers arrived and killed the two suspects in an exchange of gunfire, Meadows said. The sheriff was there but Meadows said he could not say whether he fired his weapon. The sheriff was not injured.

Mellie McDaniel worked as a victim’s advocate for the sheriff’s office.

The McDaniels married more than five years ago and enjoyed spending time with Mellie McDaniel’s two young grandchildren, neighbor Gloria Peacock said.

“They would bring the children over to see the cows we have out here,” Peacock said.

The names of the slain deputy and the suspects were not released.

Edwin Douglas said he was taking a nap at his brother’s house, across the street from the McDaniels’, when gunfire woke him.

“I heard 15 to 20 gunshots,” Douglas told The News Herald of Panama City. “It was quite a bit of excitement. About 20 police cars showed up.”

McDaniel’s father was gunned down while working at a Jackson County gas station in 1980. McDaniel, then a sheriff’s deputy, responded to a robbery call to find his father, former Malonen Mayor John P. McDaniel Jr., shot to death. Serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed.

“We never quit working a murder case,” McDaniel said at a news conference in 1990 when Lucas was extradited from Texas to Florida. “We will always continue to work any and every murder case until we come to a happy conclusion — that conclusion being the person who committed the heinous crime will go to justice.”

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