22-year-old man shot during DeLand home invasion dies, police say

K-9 units search for shooter; no suspects, police chief says

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

DeLAND, Fla. - A man shot Wednesday morning during a home invasion in DeLand has died, according to police.

The shooting was reported at 4:52 a.m. in the 600 block of Ambrose Avenue.

The man identified as Michael L. Dixon, 22, was taken to Florida Hospital DeLand and later died of his injuries.

Close family and friends said they are grieving. They said Dixon was a 2015 graduate of DeLand High School and played varsity football. They're praying for answers. 

"The person who did it, it’s not right, and it’s not right how you did it," said family friend Payne Nelson. "He was a great person with a great heart and he had a great spirit." 

Police said the shooting is not believed to be random. They’re working to find a motive, but told News 6 they’re not ruling out drugs or drug sales as a possible motive, based on Dixon’s 2016 arrest on drug charges. 

"Investigators have not confirmed at this time that this homicide is related to narcotics or narcotics sales, but obviously we are looking at this as a strong possibility for a motive," Chief Jason Umberger said.  

Police said Dixon’s charges were dropped after he finished a drug program.

Dixon's mother said she was asleep in her bedroom when she heard a loud crashing noise in the living room, according to the police report. She was confronted by an armed man with a ski mask covering his face. She ran back into her bedroom, jumped out the window and ran to a neighbor's home, Umberger said.

"I heard, like, three shots or something and I heard my son scream," the victim's mother told a 911 dispatcher. "Somebody just came in my house and started shooting. I jumped out the window."

When police arrived they found Dixon in the hallway of the home, and the door leading from the carport into the house was open, according to the report.

K-9 units from the Edgewater Police Department and New Smyrna Police Department assisted in the search for the shooter, but no arrests have been made. Detectives are canvassing the areas for the gunmen and any additional witnesses.

Police do not have any suspects at this time. It was the second shooting in three days in DeLand. On Sunday, an 18-year-old male was shot in the leg on Hubbard Avenue.

A neighbor said Dixon's mother ran to her home after the shooting.

"She heard the gunshot in her house. She heard her son scream and she said she jumped out the window, dialed 911 and took off running," the neighbor said.

The police chief called the recent unrelated shootings an unusual trend for DeLand.

"We now have a person at large who shot and killed someone," Umberger said. "We're going to have to consider that person armed and dangerous."

Umberger said the department is currently short-staffed due to recent retirements and they are working to fill those positions, but it takes three to seven months with training.

The chief called the unfilled positions a "perfect storm."

Umberger said he’s a put in place a new unit called SET -- the Special Enforcement Team -- to work in high crime areas. 

"The emphasis will be on violent crime and offenses that we know leads to violent crime," Umberger said. 

He’s also working to hire more police officers, but admits he’s having a hard time finding qualified candidates. 

Anyone with information on Dixon's shooting is asked to call the DeLand Police Department at 386-626-7400.

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