EDGEWATER, Fla. - A woman has been taken into custody after setting a home on fire and stabbing an off-duty Volusia County deputy, Edgewater police said.
Police responded at 4:19 p.m. Saturday to a fight in progress on Pine Tree Drive in Edgewater between Michael DeMalia and his ex-girlfriend, Brittany Bonin. Police said the fight was domestic in nature. DeMalia told News 6 the two hadn't been together for months, and Bonin showed up out of the blue.
DeMalia fled to the home of a nearby Volusia County sheriff's deputy, police said. Bonin arrived at the home of the off-duty deputy shortly thereafter and attempted to attack DeMalia again.
Police said the deputy intervened and while attempting to shield DeMalia from the attack was subsequently stabbed by Bonin. The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said the deputy took a knife to the lower back.
"So [Capt. Williams] steps in between them, he realizes she's stabbing me," Sheriff Mike Chitwood explained. "He gets a good couple shots in and then they're able to subdue her."
The deputy, identified by the Sheriff's Office as Capt. Cliff Williams, was taken to Florida Hospital in New Smyrna Beach with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Chitwood said Williams has already been released from the hospital.
Bonin also set fire to DeMalia's home, where the fight started, police said. The fire was extinguished by Edgewater Fire Rescue personnel.
"I'm heartbroken. He didn't deserve this," said Jacqueline DeMalia, the sister of the victim.
Jacqueline DeMalia walked through the house with News 6, pointing out where Bonin allegedly set fire in several places and smashed the fish tanks.
"They hadn't been together for quite a while, so I'm not quite sure why she did all this," she said.
Booking photo of Brittany Bonin.
Edgewater police took Bonin into custody for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, police said. Bonin also faces charges including battery, aggravated assault (deadly weapon), arson and tampering with a witness.
Bonin's family told News 6 they are shocked over what happened and there are no excuses.
The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said Williams, who started with the Sheriff's Office in 1989 after serving in the United States Marine Corps, has a long history of service to the agency.
"His career included assignments on road patrol, in the courthouse, as a recruiter, in internal affairs and as a watch commander," the Sheriff's Office said. "He led the agency's Honor Guard, developed a boot camp program for juvenile offenders and served as assistant commander of District 6, headquartered in DeBary."
Williams retired in 2014, but came back in 2015 as director of the PAL program, the Sheriff's Office said.
In a statement, Chitwood said he was proud to hear that Williams had stepped in to help put a stop to the fight.
"It just goes to show you are never truly off duty," Chitwood said. "He took a knife wound that was meant for someone else because his instinct was to step in as a protector. I'm not surprised he did -- he's proven and tough, and that's what our men and women are trained to do. I'm just a little surprised the knife didn't bend when it hit him."
It's a sentiment shared by Michael DeMalia and all his family.
"I'm grateful that he was there," Jacqueline DeMalia said. "I think he saved my brother's life. If he wasn't there, I believe she would have stabbed my brother."
Edgewater police are still actively investigating the incident.
DeMalia's family are collecting donations to help Michael and his 18-month-old daughter, Madalana, get back on their feet. You can drop off or mail any donations to:
3315 Indian Palm Drive
Edgewater, FL 32141
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