Daytona Beach school resource officer helps chase down man with gun, police say

School put on lockdown as officer joined foot chase

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona Beach police are crediting the fast actions of a school resource officer with helping to safely nab a man wanted in connection with a violent robbery.

On Tuesday, Officer Willie Chirillo was patrolling Turie T. Small Elementary School when she got word of a man with a gun running toward the campus, according to a post on the Daytona Beach Police Department’s Facebook page.

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Chirillo put the school on lockdown, according to police, and spotted the man, later identified as John Holland, shortly thereafter.

DBPD said the school resource officer then joined the foot chase down South Street along with other officers who were already in pursuit. Chirillo worked with the other officers to safely get Holland’s gun away from him and place him in cuffs.

According to the affidavit, 1.7 grams of heroin was found in Holland’s backpack after he was taken into custody.

The lockdown was lifted shortly after that and no one was hurt.

Investigators said Holland, 33, faces a felony robbery charge for holding two people at gunpoint and demanding cash from them as they were in their car. Records show $75 was stolen.

Chirillo, who has worked for the Daytona Beach Police Department for 33 years and been an SRO for five years, said she did what she needed to do to keep the campus safe.

“My priority was to lock that school down, get it safe so this guy wouldn’t get into the school and do something else because he did have a gun on him,” Chirillo said.

She said many of the students look up to her as they would a mother or aunt, so the protective instincts just kicked in. She noted that she was once a student at Turie T. Small Elementary School as were her children and grandchildren.

“It just felt good that I could stop something that was going to be probably bad, turn out good, especially for the kids. I got a lot of thank yous, a lot of kudos from my staff here at the police department and the school staff and the school administration higher ups so I did receive a lot of emails and texts thanking me,” Chirillo said.

The students expressed their gratitude as well.

“Yay Officer Chirillio,” she quoted them as saying. “It makes me feel real good. I’d do it again, I’d do it again. Without a doubt, without hesitation, I’d do it again.”

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