DeLAND, Fla. – A “heavily armed,” suicidal man at the center of a situation near City Hall and then AdventHealth DeLand on Tuesday has been taken into custody thanks to the work of first responders who spent hours speaking with him, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger said the man is a former DeLand police officer and military veteran who suffers from PTSD after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has since been taken to a hospital to be held under the Baker Act.
DeLand City Hall was on lockdown Tuesday morning as Volusia County authorities searched for the man who was believed to have shot himself and told a family member he was planning to end his life, according to city officials.
In a tweet, city officials said a man “apparently shot himself and later made threatening comments to harm himself and others if law enforcement tried to stop him.”
Authorities said they later learned that the man did not shoot himself.
Officials said the man was at City Hall on South Florida Avenue for a short time but left. The lockdown was lifted just before 9:30 a.m.
Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputies and DeLand police later located the man in a vehicle outside of AdventHealth DeLand.
City officials said the man was contained in a parking lot outside of AdventHealth DeLand. The public was asked to avoid the area.
He was taken into custody before 1 p.m. and several firearms were recovered from the vehicle, Umberger said. According to Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, the man has extensive knowledge of firearms and he was “heavily armed.”
Both Chitwood and Umberger said it took hours of negotiations with the ultimate goal being to prevent the man from injuring himself or others and with some patience, they were able to do that.
Chitwood said at one point, they convinced the man to get out of his vehicle and they attempted to use non-lethal force to knock the weapon from the man’s hand, but that didn’t work.
Two members of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office were extremely involved in the negotiations because they were able to establish rapport. Chitwood said the veteran eventually agreed to surrender if Chitwood and the two other men approached the window of the vehicle but when they got there, the man was still armed.
The sergeant then reached in the window and grabbed the gun so the man could be safely taken into custody.
Chitwood said the man shook his hand and thanked the first responders for saving him.
“Most important thing here is you had a heavily armed individual who’s bent on suicide and through the joint efforts of the DeLand Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office, we were able to end this incident without a shot being fired. Nobody’s hurt and everybody’s going home safe,” Chitwood said.
AdventHealth released a statement about the situation.
“The safety of our patients, visitors and team members is top priority. Law enforcement are actively investigating an issue outside AdventHealth DeLand. As a precaution, the hospital and adjacent medical office building are currently closed to incoming patients and visitors,” the company said.
Check back to ClickOrlando.com and stay with News 6 for updates on this developing story.