DELTONA, Fla. – A man fleeing a traffic stop pointed what appeared to be an AK-47 rifle at Volusia County deputies Tuesday leading the law enforcement officers to fire on the suspect, killing him, according to Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
The deputy-involved shooting happened in Deltona at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday. Gregory Howe was fatally shot by gunfire from four deputies, Chitwood said. All deputies and police involved are safe, the sheriff said.
“Fortunately, all the deputies are going home safely,” Chitwood told reporters after the incident.
The shooting happened in the area of the 500 block of Haversham Road, south of Saxon Boulevard and just east of I- 4.
Chitwood said the incident started when officers with the DeLand Police Department attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a white pickup in the area of South Clara and West Beresford Avenues in DeLand.
The DeLand officer learned the 37-year-old man had a suspended driver’s license and asked the driver to get out of the car, according to investigators. That’s when the suspect drove off, police said.
While Chitwood described a slow-speed chase after the driver fled, DeLand police Chief Jason Umberger clarified Wednesday that his officers did not pursue the vehicle.
Umberger said officers are trained not to pursue vehicles for for traffic citations or civil misdemeanor charges, per department policy.
After the DeLand police officer informed dispatch of the driver’s whereabouts and the sheriff’s office took over, Umberger said, adding its unclear on what charges the Sheriff’s Office was pursuing the fleeing vehicle.
The Sheriff’s Office and Air One assisted as the suspect fled the traffic stop. Stop sticks were used several times and two of the suspect’s tires were knocked out, Chitwood said.
Deputies said the suspect eventually reached his home and brandished what appeared to be an AK-47 style weapon out of his window at deputies and they returned fire, mortally wounding the man.
The four deputies who fired shots were placed on paid administrative leave standard protocol for an officer-involved shooting.
Chitwood said more than 20 shots were fired in the incident. It’s not clear at this time if the suspect fired any shots.
“It’s a lucky day for law enforcement,” Chitwood said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect no DeLand police officer were involved in a pursuit following the traffic stop.