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Woman waited for boyfriend in Vista Royale community office after argument, fatally shot him, sheriff says

Donna Smith faces second-degree murder charge in death of Jeffrey Simmons
Donna Smith, suspect in fatal shooting of boyfriend at Vista Royale community
Posted at 2:06 PM, Feb 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-20 18:19:30-05

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — A woman who fatally shot her boyfriend in the office of an Indian River County golf club community has been arrested on a charge of second-degree murder, Sheriff Eric Flowers said Tuesday.

Donna Smith, 49, shot and killed live-in boyfriend Jeffrey Simmons, 57, on Monday night inside the office of the Vista Royale golf community where he worked, Flowers said during a Zoom interview with reporters.

Smith then called 911, claiming she had been choked and chased by Simmons, Flowers said.

When deputies arrived, they found Simmons dead inside the office, Flowers said.

Investigators determined that Simmons left the nearby home he shared with Smith after "some sort of verbal disturbance," the sheriff said.

Shortly thereafter, Smith left and went to the office, Flowers said.

"It appears as though Ms. Smith was waiting for Mr. Simmons to arrive at the office space," Flowers said.

WATCH: Sheriff announces arrest in Vista Royale shooting

Sheriff Eric Flowers announces arrest after fatal shooting at Vista Royale community

As Simmons entered, Smith fired two shots, killing him, Flowers said.

Although Smith invoked her right to remain silent, her statements to 911 were "not consistent" with forensic evidence at the scene, the sheriff said.

Flowers said there were no apparent signs of a struggle inside the apartment, and her claim that Simmons chased her was "proven the opposite, that she actually went after him after he left the apartment."

"It appears as though she was literally lying in wait for him to arrive, at which point she shot and killed him," Flowers said.

WPTV's Kate Hussey went to the real estate office inside Vista Royale, which is a 55-and-older community.

The office Tuesday was dark and had the words "Donna Smith Sold It" written across the door.

Vista Royale office where Jeffrey Simmons killed, Feb. 20, 2024
Jeffrey Simmons was shot dead inside the Vista Royale community office, seen here the morning after the shooting, Feb. 20, 2024, in Indian River County, Fla.

Crime scene tape still littered the lawn outside, which was just feet from the country club's golf course and restaurant.

Vista Royale resident Rick Trembley and others described the community as quiet and safe and were shocked to hear the news.

Flowers said Smith and Simmons had been dating for quite some time and that those who knew the couple described their relationship as "tumultuous."

"This was definitely something that's been building up for a while," Flowers said, adding that deputies had never been called to the couple's residence before the shooting.

Employees of the country club, where Simmons was a manager, described him as kind and outgoing.

Kylie Merring said she was hired by Simmons and knew both him and Smith.

"He was super nice. He would walk around, make sure everyone was doing their own thing," worker Kylie Merring said.

WPTV contacted Simmons' family, who declined to comment.

Flowers said Smith was scheduled for her first court appearance Wednesday.