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Sheriff's Office: County dispatcher pulls gun on television reporter
By Pat Andrews
posted Nov 13, 2013 - 11:47:13am
The Volusia County Sheriff's Office reported that a Volusia County dispatcher was arrested Nov. 12 after she pointed a gun at WESH TV News reporter Claire Metz. Metz went to the dispatcher’s house to get the dispatcher's comments for a news story.
The incident occurred at about 12:35 p.m. near New Smyrna Beach, at the home of telecommunicator Shauna Justice.
Metz told The Beacon she went to the home to ask Justice if she would consent to an interview – to tell her side of a recent news story. Metz didn't have a camera or microphone with her when she went to the door.
Justice, who was training a rookie dispatcher, had been suspended for allegedly using her cellphone for a personal call while the rookie handled an emergency call and inadvertently sent rescue to the wrong place. That happened in September, and Justice’s use of the cellphone was documented on video surveillance of the dispatch floor, according to an internal investigation. The victim, who had had a heart attack, died. It’s unknown if the misdirection, caught 10 minutes into the call, was a factor in the death.
Justice received a three-day suspension in connection with the call. She was scheduled to serve it during the week beginning Monday, Nov. 18.
When Metz knocked on the door, both she and the Sheriff's Office said, Justice answered with a gun in hand, which she pointed at Metz's head through a storm door, and yelled for Metz to get off her property.
The gun was close to Metz's head, "and it was very scary in the moment," Metz said.
The Sheriff's Office said Justice dropped the gun to her side after Metz returned to the news van.
Justice told deputies she pointed 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," Sheriff's Office spokesman Gary Davidson said. "However, the deputy wrote in his report that Justice made no mention of any threats to her physical being that would have justified her pointing a gun at the reporter."
The gun was a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun loaded with 11 bullets. There was no bullet in the chamber, the Sheriff's Office reported.
Deputies arrested Justice and charged her with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She was released later on Nov. 12, after posting $1,500 bond, staff at the Volusia County Branch Jail said.
"I just feel terrible," Metz said the following day.
Metz said she believes her visit was the straw that broke the camel's back for the 28-year-old Justice, whom Metz said must have been very emotionally upset.
Justice has worked for the Sheriff's Office since April 2007. A disciplinary decision in connection with this latest incident will be based on the results of an internal investigation, Sheriff's Office spokesman Davidson said.
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