WESH Orlando's Claire Metz had loaded semi-automatic pointed at her head
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- An off-duty public safety tele-communicator with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office was arrested Tuesday after she pointed a gun at WESH-TV Orlando reporter Clare Metz who had gone to her house to try to interview her for a story involving a medical call where a patient died in September after an ambulance crew was directed to the wrong location.
These snapshots from a WESH-TV video show Shauna Justice, the off-duty VCSO dispatcher with a loaded handgun in her right hand. She is shown in the inset where she is supervising a 9-1-1 trainee on a call, with a transcript of the call above where a man in distress at the Ormond Beach Rec. hall collapsed and died. Surveillance tapes in the dispatch call center showed that while the trainee was working on trying to get paramedics to the scene, Justice was playing with her personal phone, according to a Sheriff's investigative report. Below is an image of the dispatch supervisor's Jungle Road home, along with deputies on scene in the gun-pointing incident.
Shauna Justice had been given a three-day unpaid suspension as punishment for the handling of the Sept. 4 dispatched call, but had not yet served it when Metz showed up at her door Tuesday in hopes of getting an interview with her from her point of view as to what went wrong. But Justice was in no mood to answer questions from a reporter and pulled out a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and ordered her to leave her yard, which she and her cameraman who stayed behind in the TV van did.
Justice was working with a trainee when the 9-1-1 call came in at 5:46 p.m., a Monday, from a friend of the victim, who advised he had collapsed and was unconscious. The caller gave the location as the Ormond Beach Rec. Center, and a location for which he was unsure and the trainee punched in the location.
The trainee punched in a pre-set locale, but failed to check for a cross street and paramedics were sent to the wrong location. Nine minutes passed before the trainee discovered the error. While this was going on, Justice was texting on her personal phone, in violation of departmental policies and procedures. A video surveillance tape of her inattention to the situation unfolding with the trainee, according to Sheriff's investigative reports obtained by Headline Surfer®. Those reports showed the trainee received a verbal reprimand.
Metz, the veteran reporter assigned to Volusia County from WESH-2 News, knocked on Justice’s Jungle Road door just after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, leaving her microphone and the camera operator behind in the van in hopers of talking the dispatcher into granting her an interview.
Metz told deputies and later in the day, her TV viewing audience, that her intent was to try to get the dispatch trainer's side of the story as to what went wrong when she suddenly found herself looking at the barrel of a firearm and an angry response.
Metz shared her harrowing incident with her TV audience while reporting from the Sheriff's district office in downtown New Smyrna Beach, saying in part, "The incident outside a home on Jungle Road was frightening for me -- I will admit. The gun was no more than a foot or two from my head and Miss Justice held it on me until I backed away."
Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson said that when Justice answered the knock, she pointed a gun at the Metz's head through the exterior storm door and yelled at her to leave the premises.
"Fearing for her life, (Metz) backed away while trying to get Justice to calm down," Davidson said. Justice then walked out the door and continued to point the gun at Metz before bringing her arm down when Metz got into the van with the camera operator behind the wheel and they leave, the Sheriff's spokesman said.
WESH TV's Clare Metz shared her harrowing incident from the Sheriff's district office in downtown New Smyrna Beach regarding an off-duty dispatcher pointing a loaded handgun at her when she knocked on the door of her New Smyrna Beach area home to try and get an interview with her about a botched dispatched call Sept. 4, of a man in distress in Ormond Beach who collapsed and died while paramedics were sent to the wrong address. Shauna Justice was supposed to be overseeing what the trainee was doing, but instead was texting on her personal phone. Now with her arrest on the gun-pointing incident, she is suspended indefinitely while an investigation gets under way, in which she could lose her job. A copy of a transcript from Metz' report to her viewers with WESH TV appears below, along with a link to her on camera report. Here's a one-liner from Metz to her viewers after the arrest:
"The incident outside a home on Jungle Road was frightening for me -- I will admit. The gun was no more than a foot or two from my head and Miss Justice held it on me until I backed away."
When responding deputies questioned Justice, she admitted pointing the gun at Metz, saying that she believed she was justified because she was protecting her property and felt harassed to the point where she felt threatened, Davidson said. But Davidson was quick to point out that the arresting deputy wrote in his report that Justice made no mention of any threats to her physical well-being that would have justified her pointing a gun at the reporter, Davidson added.
At left is the booking information on Shauna Justice, who bonded out of the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach later in the day Tuesday after her arrest on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly pointing a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun at WESH TV reporter Claire Metz.
The 28-year-old Justice was arrested and subsequently charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach, but bonded out later in the day.
Deputies seized her 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, that was loaded with 11 bullets in the magazine, but had no bullet in the chamber.
Hired by the Sheriff’s Office in April 2007, Justice's suspension is without pay. A disciplinary decision will be based on the results of an internal investigation.
Editor's Note: Transcript and link of WEST TV reporter Claire Metz' report on the gun-pointing incident that led to the arrest of the off-duty dispatcher are provided here:
Link to the WESH TV report of the incident: http://www.wesh.com/news/central-florida/volusia-county/wesh-2-reporter-claire-metz-threatened-with-gun/-/12983450/22936368/-/d8kv1tz/-/index.html#ixzz2kWGMalMq