By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
Broward County Mayor Stacy Ritter was literally being backed into a corner in her Parkland home, afraid for her life. Her 84-year-old father, Ed Portner, angry and distraught, was threatening her with a gun.
"He kept saying, 'We need to sit down and talk; we need to sit down and talk,'" Ritter says of the terrifying ordeal that took place this past October 6. "And over and over again, I asked him: 'What's with the gun?'"
It was just after 8 p.m., and Ritter was in her bathrobe and slippers. Her husband and children weren't home. At one point, she said she told her father, who had come to her house with the gun tucked in his waistband: "You're going to kill me."
"You're killing your mother with your behavior," she recalls her father answering.
Ritter tried to wrestle the gun away and failed. "He is a very strong man," she says. "I let go of the gun, and he pointed it at my forehead."
She ran through the laundry room and out the garage door.
"It was pitch-black outside," Ritter says. "I thought, I'm going to run as far as I can."
She dashed barefoot to a neighbor's house and called 911.
"I just want my dad to be OK," she says, choking back tears.
Portner is running for mayor of Tamarac. Ritter has endorsed his opponent. "I know that the mayor thing had made him so angry," she explains. "It was this intense anger."
Things have been strained between them for months. "Everybody wants their families to be perfect, but everybody has issues," she says. "When you're me, it's not like you want to talk about them, because it winds up in the newspapers."
She says her father told her the silver Lugar wasn't loaded, but she doesn't know if he was telling the truth. "My father had brought home a gun from World War II and I knew that," she says. "My first thought was, Is that that gun, and does it work? But I didn't know."
Though Ritter has been accused of corruption, she says she's most concerned about her father now. He's been charged with armed burglary and aggravated assault. "My dad has always had a hot temper," she says, "but he's never been physically violent, ever."