Deputy returned fire in defensive mode, but gunman wasn't struck and instead died from self-inflicted shotgun blast
LAKE HELEN -- An armed man who threatened his girlfriend Monday night and then kept responding Volusia County Sheriff's deputies at bay for more than four hours has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, an agency spokesman said.
The incident was sparked by a domestic disturbance at the couple's residence in the 2700 block of Ranch Road near Lake Helen. Deputies were dispatched to the scene after the Sheriff's Office received a 9-1-1 call about the disturbance at 8:41 p.m.
"The caller told dispatchers that the man had been drinking and had threatened her with a knife earlier in the evening and also had a shotgun that he had fired inside the residence," Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson told Headline Surfer just before 6:30 this morning. "While on the phone with dispatchers, the woman said that she thought that the man had left the residence. Once responding deputies learned that the man was out of the house and on foot, they called in K-9 units and a Sheriff's Office helicopter for additional assistance."
At 9:46 p.m., the helicopter was flying overhead the scene and located the man sitting in a wooded area at an abandoned paintball field north of the residence, Davidson said, adding that as deputies maintained a safe distance, the man stood up and then crouched back down several times while hiding in a large barrel.
At 9:54 p.m., while deputies were moving in closer, a gun shot rang out from the field, Davidson said. Fearing for his safety, one of the deputies deputy returned fire in self-defense with a single shot that is not believed to have struck the man. However, deputies were unable to safely get close enough to determine whether the man had shot himself, he added.
Right after the shots were fired, there initially was no movement, Davidson said, but eventually, the man started to move around, getting up and staggering around for a while and then sitting back down while still holding the shotgun. After the exchange of gunfire, the Sheriff's Office's SWAT Team -- including trained hostage negotiators -- were called to the scene to help contain the situation and try to safely make contact with the man."
Shortly after 2 this morning, units managed to reach the man and he was airlifted to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Davidson said, and he was pronounced dead shortly after 3 a.m. His name is being withheld until family members are notified of his death.
The girlfriend suffered minor injuries during the confrontation with her boyfriend, and no one else was in the residence.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the deputy's actions, which is standard procedure when an officer fires his weapon, Davidson said. He did not release the name of the deputy nor that of the girlfriend.