Dr. Leroy Hommerding, Director of the Fort Myers Beach Public Library was fatally stabbed early Sunday morning, January 20, 2019, as he opened the library doors for the second day of a two-day book sale held in the garage. Several book sale patrons and volunteers witnessed the stabbing.
In a Sunday afternoon press conference, Sheriff Carmine Marceno reported that deputies were called to the library at 2755 Estero Blvd on Fort Myers Beach at 9:06 a.m. Sunday morning regarding a stabbing. “Thanks to the rapid and professional response by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the assistance of concerned citizens, this outrageous crime will not go unpunished,” said Marceno.
A police report released Wednesday indicated that witnesses saw the suspect, Adam Mitchell Soules, 36, stab Hommerding as he opened the library doors. Hommerding sustained injuries to his forearms and torso and was pronounced deceased on the scene.
Soules ran from the scene with a knife and witnesses followed him to the building formerly housing Topps Supermarket. The suspect climbed onto the roof, where deputies apprehended him without resistance. The knife believed used in the attack was found on the roof also.
According to the arrest report, Soules told Lee County Sheriff’s Office detectives that he had targeted Hommerding because he “had disrespected him previously.” Soules told detectives that he had been wanting to kill Hommerding for a while. When he saw him opening the library Sunday morning, Soules saw an opportunity and attacked Hommerding without any warning with the sole intent of killing him. Soules expressed no remorse for his actions. He said that he had no previous violent encounters with Hommerding, he just didn’t like how he’d been treated. Soules provided a complete confession to the LCSO, which agreed with witness statements.
Soules is being held without bond on the homicide charge.
He also faces another charge of Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon in relation to an attack on Robert Keene on January 9. In that incident, Keene told detectives that he was confronted by an unknown white male who demanded his wallet and money. When he could provide neither, the man attacked him. Keene, who is homeless, then walked to the former Topps Supermarket area where he slept. When he got on the LeeTran bus the next morning, the driver noted Keene’s bleeding neck injury and called the LCSO, who called an ambulance. He required over 50 stitches and was hospitalized. Keene was unable to identify his attacker, telling detectives it was dark and he has poor vision.
Following his arrest for Hommerding’s murder, Soules told detectives that he had attacked another homeless man he knew as “Bob.” Soules said that “Bob” had walked directly at him in a manner he found “rude” and “disrespectful.” He said he grabbed his knife and struck “Bob” with it on the side of his neck, then ran off. Soules identified Keene as his victim in the January 9th incident. Both Keene and Soules are identified in police reports as homeless.
Soules will face arraignment on both charges on February 18, 2019 at 8:30am.
Islanders reacted to the news Sunday with stunned sadness.
“It is a sad and tragic day for Fort Myers Beach,” said Fort Myers Beach council member Anita Cereceda on Sunday, calling for prayers for the friends, family and co-workers of Dr. Hommerding. Dr. Hommerding was very active in the Fort Myers Beach community. In addition to his role as Library Director, he served as Treasurer of the Estero Island Historic Society and was an active member and volunteer with the Fort Myers Beach Kiwanis Club.