Volusia sheriff, DeLand police chief angry about block party participants getting hostile

Amid a worldwide coronavirus pandemic, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood is estimating at least 3,000 people attended a block party and car show in DeLand over the weekend.  

“It’s not my job to enforce social distancing orders from the governor. That’s not what police do,” Sheriff Chitwood said.

Video of the crowd was captured on the Volusia County Sheriff's Office’s helicopter camera.  

“We’ll let them run it until 10 p.m., as long as they behave,” a person can be heard saying in the video.  

(Volusia County Sheriff's Office)

On the ground, DeLand police body cameras show officers keeping roads cleared and party-goers off private property.  

“Sheriff's Office has trespass authority here, so you’re going to have to move up the block,” an officer told a woman who had just parked. 

DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger told FOX 35 News that crowd control enforcement took a turn just after 10 p.m.  

“The thing that initially started, it was a deputy had a rifle pointed at him, that’s when I think the whole dynamic changed,” Chief Umberger said, adding that the suspect is still on the run. 

Body camera video captured when investigators say two known felons pointed guns at each other.

“Get back! Get back! He’s got a gun!” an officer can be heard yelling.  

That video also showed a woman getting arrested after Chief Umberger said she was attacking one of the officers as he tried to arrest one of the armed men.  

“While one of my officers is helping a deputy arrest that person, he gets hit in the back of the head with a bottle and then a chair, a bar stool,” Chief Umberger said.

In all, eight people were arrested and investigators say at least three handguns were involved. Sheriff Chitwood used choice words describing the chaos.  

Some members of the community called responding deputies and officers racists; however, the sheriff is not tolerating that.  

“From what I watched on this video, this has nothing to do with race; it’s lawlessness,” Sheriff Chitwood said.

Commissioner Barbara Girtman is backing law enforcement, but she also told reporters that block parties are nothing new to her district.  

“You need an outlet in a community. The numbers, the way it happens today, is not the way it used to happen. So, how do we manage this better? That’s the conversation we need to happen,” Commissioner Girtman said.

The police chief and sheriff are offering to meet with clergy and the NAACP to find a way to try to "get on the same page" as the Spring Hill neighborhood where the block party and chaos happened.