EUSTIS, Fla. – A man accused of shooting a Eustis police captain was killed in a gun battle with deputies, bringing a manhunt that lasted more than six hours to an end, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Peyton Grinnell said that during the search for Jayson Colvin, a Marion County Sheriff’s Office helicopter pilot spotted the fugitive, still armed with a handgun, hiding under a canoe near a lake in Umatilla Thursday evening.
Colvin ran into a wooded area as authorities approached him, making it impossible for deputies to see him.
“Literally, the pilot was having to give my SWAT team element play-by-play up to the point that they were 7 to 10 yards in front of him and they still couldn’t see him," Grinnell said.
The pilot led deputies to Colvin’s location but the suspect refused to follow their commands.
“It got hairy,” Grinnell said.
Colvin died at the scene after a shoot out with deputies. Authorities were unable to immediately provide information about who fired their weapon first and how many times Colvin was shot.
No other law enforcement officers were injured. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.
Eustis Police Department public information officer Lauren Brown said the incident started at about 12:15 p.m. when Capt. Gary Winheim, who was in the area of North State Road 19, heard gunshots coming from outside a nearby Shell gas station.
No one was injured in that first shooting incident, Brown said. Details about what led up to that gunfire are not known.
Eustis Police Chief Gary Calhoun said Winheim was pulling into the Shell gas station parking lot at about the same time Colvin was pulling out, so he turned around and followed him down State Road 44.
Even though Winheim didn’t activate his lights, Colvin pulled over to the side of the road and Winheim stopped behind him in his unmarked pickup truck.
“(Colvin) just immediately jumped out and started firing. The captain had no time to do anything, there was no engaging of any kind. He just started shooting,” Calhoun said.
Winheim was flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he is in stable condition. Calhoun said Thursday at about 7:30 p.m. that Winheim was talking, in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery.
The bullet hit Winheim’s ear, traveled down his neck and lodged in his back. On Friday, doctors will decide if they’re going to remove the bullet.
“Another millimeter or so in another direction, it could have been a lot worse,” Calhoun said.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Lt. John Herrell said that after shooting Winheim, Colvin fled the scene in Eustis, drove up to County Road 450 and bailed out of his vehicle near Baker Road.
At about 4:15 p.m. Thursday, deputies said they believed they had Colvin “contained” in an area near County Road 450 and State Road 19. They announced that he was dead around 7:30 p.m.
Grinnell said he and his deputies were determined to make sure Colvin would no longer be a threat to the community.
“We were not gonna leave that area with an individual that dangerous in the community. I don’t care how long it would have taken, we would have stayed there,” Grinnell said.
Authorities said that on Tuesday, Colvin committed an armed robbery at the same Shell gas station on State Road 19 while wearing a mask to resemble the “Friday the 13th” character, Jason Voorhees.
“(The) Eustis Police Department was working an armed robbery in which he allegedly robbed the Shell station two nights ago and stole a vehicle from the clerk at that gas station, so they’ve been following up on that ever since," Herrell said. “They were actively looking for him today, is my understanding, and this happened this afternoon and they do believe it’s one and the same.”
He also had an extensive criminal history.
After the manhunt ended Thursday night, officials thanked all the law enforcement officers from across the region who helped in the search and members of the community who provided crucial tips on Colvin’s whereabouts.
Grinnell said he’s thankful the situation wasn’t worse.
“We’re very blessed but we believe in the power of prayer and my deputies are going home,” he said.