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Wife of Dickey Betts charged with threatening to shoot high school rowing team

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SARASOTA, Co. (WWSB) - A Sarasota woman is charged with threatening to shoot more than a dozen high school students rowing near her backyard in Osprey.

Deputies arrested Donna Betts, 61, the wife of Allman Brothers Band founding member Dickey Betts, after they say video shows her standing on her dock, aiming a 30-30 Winchester rifle at the rowing crew and threatening to shoot them. 

At about 5:30 p.m. on Monday, members of the Sarasota Crew rowing team were at 400 Palmetto Avenue for their daily rowing practice. As several members of the crew were getting into the water with their boats, Betts appeared on her dock nearby armed with a rifle.

Betts began pointing the rifle at the different crew members who were in their boats and threatening to shoot them, deputies say. At no time did the crew members enter Betts' property, they added. Betts told the students and coaches if they came on her property she would shoot, deputies say.

The incident was captured on a cell phone, which shows Betts standing on her dock with a rifle yelling at the students to stay off her property. She raises her rifle and points it at them several times in the video, according to the report. "The video depicts the fear in the students' voices as they ask why she was pointing the rifle at them," the deputy said.

At the end of the video, Betts throws the rifle into the water. It was recovered and placed into Sheriff's Office property. Next, Betts called 9-1-1 at about 5:43 p.m. saying, "The crew from Sarasota High School have destroyed her life and she has had it, identifying herself as Donna."

The coaches and crew members said in the report they have had several issues with Betts in the past. 

Betts has been charged with 18 counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and for "causing a well founded fear coupled with the ability to produce great bodily harm and/or death."

At the nearby Sarasota Scullers Club, Treasurer Rita Ferrandino says she was shocked.

"We've had kids out here on the water for 25 years, so our hearts and our prayers go out to anyone that was involved in this," said Ferrandino. 

She stresses the importance of safety on the water. "From the minute those kids arrive at the boat yard to the minute they're picked up, they're in our care," said Ferrandino, "so it's very critical that we have strong policies around all of that safety." 

Betts was given supervised released on a $180,000 bond on Wednesday. She must wear an ankle bracelet and stay away from drugs during her bond arrangement. Betts is also prohibited from contacting any member of the rowing team.