Shoplifting Suspect Arrested After Shooting, Fiery Standoff


DELTONA, Fla. - A man accused of shoplifting from a Deltona gas station was arrested on Wednesday following a tense and dangerous standoff with Volusia Sheriff's deputies. 56-year-old Dempsey Hadley is said to have started the incident by stealing cigarettes from the Wawa on Howland Blvd.

The Volusia Sheriff's Office received a call about the shoplifting at 4:30 am from an employee, who also mentioned the thief had a knife visible on his hip. Upon the arrival of deputies, Hadley was said to have driven his car toward one and fled from another as they tried to stop him.

Stop sticks were deployed, deflating the driver's side tires on the vehicle as it drove away. The truck was able to limp back to Hadley's home on Whitehorse Court, and deputies reportedly tried again to apprehend Hadley. He's said to have ignored commands and refused to exit his truck. When a deputy tried to pull him out, the VSO says Hadley produced a gun and fired it.

Deputies fell back after the shooting and a standoff began between them and Hadley. He reportedly began setting some sorts of fires inside his truck cab, while deputies accessed the home and evacuated Hadley's son and a dog. A SWAT team, K-9 units, drones, and VSO Air One were dispatched to the scene, as was a Fire/EMS unit in the event of serious injury.

The SWAT team maneuvered its Bearcat vehicle to block in the truck, then push it to the garage. Hadley exited and went to the attic, the VSO says, and began once again starting a fire. Flames and smoke were seen inside the house, and soon the entire upper floors were engulfed. The VSO said Hadley maintained his decision not to surrender as he stepped onto a balcony on the second floor of the house. The balcony was dismantled by the Bearcat and Hadley was rescued from the fire.

He was treated for his wounds at the scene and later booked on three criminal charges: three counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, fleeing or eluding law enforcement, and petit retail theft.

The x-ray of a Volusia Sheriff's deputy who struck in the face by a bullet fragment during the intense standoff.
The x-ray of a Volusia Sheriff's deputy who struck in the face by a bullet fragment during the intense standoff.

One deputy was hit in the face with bullet fragments according to Sheriff Mike Chitwood after the incident. The deputy is expected to be fine, though Chitwood had him take time off to recoup from his close brush with death.

"In my 35 years of working for Deltona Fire Department and the City of Deltona, I have never seen an incident like what I saw yesterday morning," said Deltona Fire Chief Bill Snyder. "The men and women of Deltona Fire Department willingly placed themselves in harm's way to help rescue an individual, despite the potential risk that this person could have to their own safety."