The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, the DeLand Police Department and the Federal Department of Law Enforcement are swarming south DeLand after a recent spate of shootings.
At a press conference Nov. 16, DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger said there have been at least seven incidents involving guns since Oct. 29. Two people were shot and injured on separate occasions, and one person was killed.
The three agencies’ “Violent Crimes Task Force” has increased police presence significantly in the area, resulting in what the Sheriff’s Office said have been dozens of traffic stops and almost 40 arrests from Nov. 9 to Nov. 15.
The shootings have not been localized to one area, according to police mapping, Umberger said, mentioning Candlelight Oaks, a predominantly Black neighborhood near southwest DeLand.
“The homicide took place in Candlelight Oaks, but we also had shootings outside of Candlelight Oaks,” Umberger said. “To say that it’s one specific neighborhood, I don’t think that’s correct. Gun violence is everywhere.”
According to the Police Department, the latest shooting occurred Nov. 13. Several gunshots were reported at the intersection of East Euclid and South Kentucky avenues, and one person was shot in the leg. The shooting victim was later released from AdventHealth DeLand. Detectives recovered 30 spent rifle shell casings at the site, the DeLand Police said.
Of particular concern is the types of guns being utilized, Umberger said.
“There are a lot of high-powered rifles out there. There are multiple rounds being fired, and we are very concerned,” Umberger said.
“We’ve had five shootings in a week. One person’s dead. A couple people are injured. And we’re done playing around,” one deputy tells a community member. “This isn’t picking on you or anybody else — you know normally we’ll give you a ticket to work with — but until we start getting some answers, this is how it’s gonna be for a while.”
Umberger urged residents to send in tips.
“The community has two choices to make. One: They continue to not talk to us out of fear and live in fear, in perpetual fear, that these individuals are going to, at certain times, come out and utilize the weapons that they’re using,” Umberger said. “The second choice is to step out in a little bit of faith. Work with law enforcement.”
“If you’re listening to me and you’re thinking about committing crimes in our city — there’s increased law-enforcement presence, and it’s everywhere. And the likelihood that you get caught is highly increased,” Umberger said.
Anyone with information can contact the police departments anonymously via Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-TIPS or on the P3 Tips app.