A 54-year-old DeBary man, Thomas Gentry, was shot last night by Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputies after he allegedly pointed a rifle at them.
Gentry is expected to survive.
“He wanted to draw us in to kill him,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said at a press conference today.
Deputies originally responded to a call from the man’s wife, who told 911 operators her husband was intoxicated and suicidal, and had emptied out a gun safe in the DeBary home and was moving the weapons to a large shed on the property. The wife and two children, ages 14 and 20, were not at the property at the time of the incident.
In body-camera footage provided by the Sheriff’s Office, a deputy can be heard telling Gentry to drop a weapon multiple times near the driveway of the home before the deputy opened fire.
According to Chitwood, Gentry, an ex-Marine, leveled a rifle at the deputy, who shot “9 to 10 shots.” Gentry then dropped the rifle, and retreated to the shed, where he was taken into custody.
“I’m sorry if I shot at y’all,” Gentry is heard saying, as deputies secured him and began to administer first aid. Gentry was shot in the arm and in the torso, Chitwood said, and is currently intubated and expected to survive. The department is not sure if Gentry in fact fired the rifle, the sheriff added.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is currently handling the investigation, as is the procedure in deputy-involved shootings.
Multiple loaded weapons, including two shotguns, an AR-15 and three handguns, and 2,000 rounds of ammunition, were found in the shed at Gentry’s home. In the body-camera footage, a shotgun can be seen leaning against a nearby doorway.
“I’m editorializing a bit but I describe it as — it was like the Alamo,” Chitwood said.
From the information provided by the wife, and evidence at the scene, the Sheriff’s Office believes Gentry wanted them to kill him, Chitwood said. Gentry will be charged with aggravated assault against a law-enforcement officer, according to the sheriff.
The shooting of Gentry was the second deputy-involved shooting since the beginning of June. On June 1, deputies shot and wounded a 14-year-old girl who had shot multiple rounds at them after breaking into a home in Enterprise. The girl is in stable condition and facing charges of attempted murder of a law-enforcement officer.
Chitwood said Volusia County has a substantial number of risk-protection orders in effect — orders that restrict firearm possession from those who are a danger to themselves or others. The number, the sheriff said, shows “how mentally ill people are. And they’re armed.”
“It’s a huge, huge, huge problem for our community and for law enforcement. There are folks out there that should just not have a gun,” Chitwood said.
“We are the safest city in Volusia County, and one of the safest in Florida,” DeBary City Manager Carmen Rosamonda said at the press conference. “We are saddened by this particular incident. We’ll process it, and we’ll move forward.”