Richard Ham: Cops Shoot Dead Man after He Tried to Burn Girlfriend's 9-Year-Old Son Whom He Thought Was 'Possessed by Demon'

Upon arriving at the scene, deputies ordered Ham to surrender, but he allegedly refused to comply with their commands.

A convicted felon was shot dead by law enforcement in Florida after assaulting a deputy with a rod and allegedly burning his girlfriend's 9-year-old son because he believed that the child was "possessed by a demon," according to authorities. The man has been identified as Richard Ham, 39.

First responders upon arriving in the city of Sebring for a report of a suspicious roadside debris fire around 4 p.m. on Tuesday were confronted by Ham who was wielding a pair of metal poles, according to a press release from the Highland County Sheriff's Office. Ham and his girlfriend, Lakenya Phillips, 30, were burning the belongings of the woman's 9-year-old son.

Killed While Confronting Police

Richard Ham
Richard Ham X

Worried witnesses contacted 911, and upon the arrival of medics and law enforcement, Ham reportedly became combative. Ham and Phillips were already burning the belongings of the woman's 9-year-old son by that time, whom the man believed to be "possessed by a demon."

Witnesses told investigators that Ham pushed the boy into the fire and covered him with a flaming blanket. Fortunately, the child was able to escape without sustaining serious injuries.

Upon arriving at the scene, deputies ordered Ham to surrender, but he allegedly refused to comply with their commands. As a result, law enforcement resorted to using a Taser to subdue him.

The Taser, unfortunately, seemed to have no effect on Ham, who proceeded to strike a deputy with one of the rods in his hands, as reported by the sheriff's office. In response, a deputy opened fire on Ham, fatally injuring him.

The suspect was immediately rushed to a hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries. The officer who was struck in the head was treated at a different hospital and subsequently released.

Investigation Still Ongoing

In the meantime, law enforcement arrested Phillips, who, along with her son, had been reported missing and endangered in Wichita, Kansas, two weeks ago. The circumstances surrounding how or why the pair ended up nearly 1,500 miles away in Sebring, Florida, remain unclear.

The woman's son, now in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, revealed that he had not bathed or brushed his teeth for at least 10 days and had not been fed in at least 24 hours.

The 9-year-old reported that both his mom and her boyfriend had a history of drug use, and he alleged that Ham had threatened him with a large knife, claiming he had used it to take someone's life. Authorities are collaborating with counterparts in other states to investigate this statement.

Upon searching the vehicle in which Ham and Phillips were traveling, law enforcement discovered multiple guns and drugs.

Phillips now faces charges of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, and cruelty toward a child.

Prosecutors told the judge that they would be pursuing a felony murder charge against Phillips, asserting that her actions contributed to Ham's death during her initial court appearance on Wednesday. She was subsequently ordered to be held without bond.

Ham's criminal history was extensive, encompassing convictions for armed felonies and drug possession in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia.