LAKE MARY, Fla. - The Volusia County Sheriff's Office released body camera video showing a shooting involving a deputy. This is the second deputy-involved shooting in the county in less than two weeks.
The incident happened Thursday at a residence on Tanglewood Road in DeBary.
During a news conference on Friday, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said a deputy responded to a domestic violence call at the home was ambushed.
Investigators said a suicidal Thomas Gentry forced the deputy to fire upon him, wounding him. Gentry crawled into a boat shed and that's where the sheriff said the suspect had a stash of weapons.
Chitwood said one thing deputies had to their advantage was a very useful 911 call from Gentry’s wife.
"He has multiple guns, shotguns, AR-15, handguns, Glocks, he must have at least 15 guns," Gentry’s wife told dispatchers.
Chitwood said it was a 911 call that likely saved many lives. Deputies showed knowing they would find a man surrounded by an arsenal.
"I've already left the house. I'm in the middle of separation with my husband, and we were talking about everything that's going on, and he's threatening to kill himself," Gentry’s wife told dispatchers.
The sheriff said deputies fired when they saw him aim his rifle at them.
"We're not sure if he got one [round] off or not – he says he did. We're not sure if when he pulled the bolt back and got the gun up one didn't eject. By that time we were already firing at him," Chitwood explained.
After deputies closed in on Gentry, they made sure none of his guns were nearby. That's when the deputies become lifesavers, immediately applying first aid. Gentry is in the hospital, expected to survive. No deputies were injured.
Chitwood said Gentry was extremely intoxicated at the time.
"He wanted us to kill him. That's what it came down to," Chitwood said.
Chitwood said the man's daughter called him and said she is happy none of the deputies were hurt and that she's glad her father will now get the help he needs.
"He wanted to draw us in to kill him. He talked about wanting to kill himself. But from what his daughter told me was ‘he wanted you guys to kill him.’"
In the body camera video, the suspect can be heard apologizing for shooting at them. At one point, Chitwood said, the suspect grabbed one of the deputy's ankles and tells him that he was sorry.
Chitwood said the suspect had over 2,000 rounds of ammunition. He tweeted images of the weapons late Thursday evening.
The sheriff said when anyone in that situation makes a 911 call, the more information they can give, the better.
"I know you're in a stressful situation. The more information you can give to 911, the more info they can give to the deputies, the deputies' supervisors can make informed decisions that'll save people's lives."
This shooting comes just one week after the agency's deputies were involved in what they described as a shootout with two juveniles – a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl.
That hours-long standoff ended with the girl being injured and the boy surrendering to deputies. Sheriff Chitwood said deputies exercised extreme caution and restraint after being targeted multiple times by gunfire.
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