‘Thank God we didn’t kill him:’ Volusia sheriff details deputy shooting in DeBary

Man tried to commit suicide by deputy, sheriff says

‘Thank God we didn’t kill him:’ Volusia sheriff details deputy shooting in DeBary
‘Thank God we didn’t kill him:’ Volusia sheriff details deputy shooting in DeBary

DeBARY, Fla. – Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood detailed a deputy-involved shooting Friday afternoon in which a deputy shot a man who had threatened to get into a shootout with deputies responding to a domestic violence call.

The shooting happened Thursday night at a home on Tanglewood Road in DeBary, west of U.S. 17 and south of Highbanks Road. Investigators said Thomas Gentry, 54, was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the arm. The sheriff said he is currently intubated in the hospital but is expected to survive.

Prior to the news conference, the sheriff’s office played the call to 911 that brought deputies to the home, along with body camera video from the deputy who opened fire on Gentry.

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In the 911 call, Gentry’s wife can be heard warning deputies that he is intoxicated and has multiple guns with him inside of a storage shed.

“He said if I call 911 that he’s going to have a shootout with the cops, so I’ve been hesitant to call because I don’t want anybody getting hurt,” the man’s wife said. “And he has multiple guns — shotguns, AR-15s, handguns, Glocks — he must have at least 15 guns.”

Investigators said the man also had at least 2,000 rounds of ammunition and that each gun was fully loaded.

“We arrive on scene at 8:19 and deputies immediately encounter him with the rifle, standing in the yard, and for the next, till 8:41 — so what’s that, 22 minutes — they’re trying to get in to put the rifle down,” Chitwood said. “And then there’s a point in there where he charges the weapon and brings it up and points it at deputies, and one of our deputies fires, as you see, multiple times, striking him.”

911 and body camera video of Volusia deputy-involved shooting
911 and body camera video of Volusia deputy-involved shooting

Chitwood said only one deputy fired his weapon, shooting off about nine or 10 rounds. The body camera video reflects that as well.

Following the shooting, deputies can be seen in the body camera video advancing on the shed and the wounded Gentry. As soon as deputies establish that he is no longer armed, they begin administering first aid, applying a tourniquet to the man’s arm.

“It’s going to hurt like hell,” one deputy can be heard saying to Gentry as they apply the tourniquet.

“I didn’t shoot until you all put a laser on me,” Gentry said in the video. “I’m sorry, I hope I didn’t hit nobody.”

“You didn’t. You’re fine,” a deputy responds.

Although Gentry said the man fired a round at deputies, the sheriff said it was not clear whether he had.

Ambush in waiting:’ Volusia deputy shoots armed man
Ambush in waiting:’ Volusia deputy shoots armed man

Gentry can be heard apologizing several more times as the deputies apply first aid. Following that, the body camera video shows deputies walking into the storage shed where it appears Gentry had positioned several guns around the perimeter of the building. Among the guns was an AR-15 style rifle that deputies said was outfitted with what they believe was an illegally purchased suppressor.

The sheriff said Gentry’s family said the man was suicidal and trying to provoke deputies to kill him.

“He wanted us to kill him, and he was going to do everything he could to make sure that we kill them. Thank God we didn’t kill him,” Chitwood said.

The sheriff said Gentry will face a charge of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. Records show Gentry’s only previous criminal history was a DUI in 2017.

The deputy who opened fire is now on paid leave with the use of force is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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