A typical response from neighbors of otherwise law-abiding citizens who commit horrible crimes is often along the lines of: “He seemed like such a nice man.”
That’s just how Robert Schminky’s neighbors reacted this week after hearing the Key Largo man allegedly pummeled his wife with the stock of a shotgun Tuesday night until it broke, led police on a wild car chase and engaged in a shootout with several officers.
“It was a complete shock,” said Jonathan Singleton, who lives on Sunset Boulevard, only a couple of houses away from Schminky’s Buttonwood Drive home.
Singleton and Schminky have been neighbors for about six years, and Singleton described Schminky as a dog lover and friendly to those living near him.
“His big hobby was playing with his two dogs,” Singleton said. “He was real friendly to all the other neighbors.”
Singleton said Schminky owned two mixed-breed collies and was planning to adopt a third.
Schminky, 57, is in jail today facing four counts of attempted murder and other charges following a domestic dispute and police chase — which included gunshots fired — just before midnight Tuesday.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies say Schminky beat his wife Honour bloody with the stock of a shotgun before he fled.
"The stock of the shotgun was broken during the beating," says Becky Herrin, spokeswoman for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. "She sustained severe injuries including a broken arm, a broken wrist, broken ribs, a head injury and other internal injuries. She later told detectives she believes he would have killed her if deputies had not arrived when they did."
In addition to facing attempted murder charges for allegedly beating his wife, deputies booked him on three counts of attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated battery on a police officer, aggravated assault on a police officer, discharging a firearm in public and fleeing and eluding police.
Deputies Angelina Lubin and Diosvel Fumero responded to 52 Buttonwood Drive around mile marker 100.5 after getting a call about a domestic dispute involving a gun. When they arrived, they heard Honour Schminky calling for help and found Robert Schminky in the front yard holding the shotgun.
They ordered him to drop it; he instead fired twice into the ground, then got into a white 2004 Lexus sport utility vehicle and drove away, heading north on U.S. 1 to State Road 905, which leads to Card Sound Road. Sgt. Sydney Whitehouse and other deputies pursued.
Another neighbor of Schminky, who did not want to be identified, said he heard the shots.
“I woke up to the sound of a couple of shotgun blasts and I just assumed it was fireworks,” the neighbor said. “This is such a nice, really quiet, sleepy place, and you just don’t hear gunfire.”
He too said there was no indication Schminky was violent.
“He seemed like a really decent guy,” the man said. “And his wife is just super nice.”
At some point, Schminky did a U-turn at Valois Boulevard and headed back south. So Whitehouse turned around, too, and continued the pursuit back to U.S. 1. Schminky pulled into the Circle K parking at mile marker 106 where U.S. 1 and 905 split.
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper C. Gracey was in her cruiser in the parking lot and Schminky rammed it with his Lexus, then fired "several gunshots" into her car, Herrin said, striking the windshield and emergency lights.
Whitehouse, also back at the Circle K, got out of his car "to take a tactical position to engage the suspect," Herrin said. "He heard a gunshot and felt pain in his upper right leg. A bullet from the suspect had grazed his leg." Gracey sustained a minor arm injury from the collision.
Herrin said Schminky then left southbound. Deputy Nestor Argote followed him and he pulled into Saint Justin Martyr Catholic Church about a mile away.
Schminky "fired several shots" at Argote, Herrin said, then took off running. Argot and Detective Barney Sajdak caught him.
Police found a Smith and Wesson .44-caliber magnum revolver with six fired shell casings in Schminky's SUV. Six .40-caliber shell casings were also found in the car, as was the gun he had when he took off running, a 40-caliber Springfield semi-automatic handgun.
The Schminkys have been married for 16 years. According to a Sheriff’s Office report, their argument started after Robert returned home from the Miami Veterans Administration Hospital and his wife asked about test results. Honour Schminky's brother apparently is the one who called police after she called him from the house to tell him what was going on.