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LECANTO — Sheriff Mike Prendergast started his speech before Tuesday’s annual breakfast gathering of the Community Alliance of Citrus County by calling for a moment of silence for two emergency responders from Orlando who died in the line of duty.
And as he left the breakfast, held at the Salvation Army facility in Lecanto, Prendergast urged all of Citrus County to remain vigilant until the suspect believed to be involved in both fatalities is apprehended.
“Orlando is only one hour away,” he said.
An Orlando police sergeant was shot and killed Monday after approaching a suspect wanted for questioning in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. A second law enforcement officer was killed in a motorcycle crash while responding to a massive manhunt for the suspect.
Prendergast reminded the approximately 100 people in the audience that the two deaths occurred during Florida First Responder Appreciation Week, which continues through Friday.
Tuesday’s breakfast was one of the first public speaking engagements for Prendergast, who took office Jan. 2. He told attendees they can make a difference in the community by using the resources at their disposal.
“We’ve got to be people of action,” he said.
Prendergast frequently referenced a famous adage by President Teddy Roosevelt during his 15-minute speech: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
“If you want to make a difference in the world, start with your community,” Prendergast told the various social service agency representatives.
Each January, the community alliance’s executive board hosts an annual event to show appreciation to its membership group for its efforts the previous year and as a way to kick off the new year by encouraging one another to continue their good work, according to Renea Teaster, the alliance’s facilitator.
Tuesday was the fourth year the nonprofit alliance has held the appreciation breakfast. As sheriff, Prendergast will sit on the alliance’s executive board.
Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-5660, firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The Community Alliance of Citrus County is comprised of both state and county agencies such as the Department of Children and Families, Kids Central, the Department of Juvenile Justice, Florida Department of Health and nonprofit organizations such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs of Citrus County, Filter Youth Development and Eckerd Kids.