MILTON — No criminal charges will be filed against a Gulf Breeze man who fatally shot his mentally ill son as the son, a former Niceville police officer, attacked the man and his wife in April at their home.
In a Thursday letter to Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson, Assistant State Attorney Amber Rowland said that based on a review of photographs, interviews and other documentation associated with the April 30 shooting, "it is my opinion that the use of deadly force by Brady Reitz which caused the death of Erich Reitz was reasonable and justified under Florida law and no criminal charges should be filed."
Erich Reitz, 29, was shot by his father after Erich stabbed him and his wife, Erich's mother Gabriela, that afternoon. As the incident unfolded, Gabriela Reitz called 911 to report that she and her husband had been stabbed. During the call, according to Thursday's letter to Johnson, "dispatchers heard gunshots and Gabriela advised that Brady had just shot Erich in self-defense."
The Reitzes were taken to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola. Subsequently, they told police their son, who had been living with them, "had a history of mental illness and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychosis," according to Rowland's letter to Johnson.
Erich Reitz had worked as a Niceville police officer for several years, but in January 2018 he "began exhibiting erratic behavior and was subsequently Baker Acted (held involuntarily in a mental health treatment facility for a limited time)," according to the letter. The next month, after a police internal affairs investigation, he was terminated.
He was subsequently "Baker Acted" a second time and moved in with his parents. He then sought treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs and was doing well until a few days before the April 30 incident, "when he started acting manic again," according to the letter.
The day before the attack, Erich Reitz reportedly admitted to his parents that he had not been taking his medication for several days. Before stabbing his parents, he was reportedly agitated and erratic, "calling Brady and Gabriela 'the devil' and the 'son of Lucifer,' '' the letter said.
At the time of the attack, Erich called his father into his bedroom on the pretense of helping him with his phone. When his father entered the room, Erich stabbed him multiple times before stabbing his mother once in the chest.
Brady Reitz, who was carrying a 9mm semiautomatic pistol in his pocket, retrieved it while down on the floor, according to the letter, and fired multiple times at his son before taking his wife's phone and talking with the 911 dispatcher. An autopsy determined that Erich Rietz suffered eight gunshot wounds to his chin, back, forearm, hip and thigh.
In explaining the decision not to charge Brady Reitz, Rowland cited a Florida statute that reads, in part, that a person "is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another ... ."
"Based upon the applicable law," Rowland wrote, "Brady Reitz was justified in using deadly force in that he reasonably believed that such force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself and Gabriela ... ."
A brief press release from the State Attorney's Office accompanying the letter to Johnson noted that "no criminal charges will be filed against Brady Reitz."