Three And A Half Hours Of Negotiations Ends Hospital Crisis


DeLand, FL - Volusia deputies and DeLand police bring a peaceful end to a crisis involving a suicidal man at AdventHealth DeLand.

According to the Volusia Sheriff's Office, the man, a military veteran and former DeLand police officer and Volusia deputy identified as 55-year-old Theodore Melton, was disarmed and taken out of his vehicle around 12:30 Tuesday afternoon (August 11th) in the hospital's parking lot.

That's where deputies say he had stopped his vehicle after leading law enforcement through DeLand following his suicidal statements.

Per a release from VSO, the first 911 call went out around 7:30 in the morning after an out-of-state caller reporting his friend, Melton, called to say goodbye, claiming he had shot himself in the chest. The caller also reported that there may be explosives in his truck. No explosives were found, although authorities did secure several weapons.

Soon after the call was made, authorities found Melton's truck as it was driving through DeLand. Eventually, Melton ran over a deputy’s stop sticks  and the vehicle finally came to a stop outside the emergency room just short of 9:00 a.m.

Negotiations then carried on for about three and a half hours, with Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood delivering paperwork the man wanted to sign to determine his beneficiaries, which can be seen in a video provided by the Sheriff's Office.

Following negotiations, Melton was taken into custody. After he was secured from his vehicle, he was taken into the hospital. Medical staff then determined that Melton had no gunshot wounds. 

The Sheriff's Office says that deputies completed Baker Act paperwork, collected the weapons from the scene and are now filing for a judge's risk protection order to remove weapons from the man’s possession due to the danger he poses to himself or others.

“Nobody’s hurt, and everybody went home safe. That’s the most important thing that came out of this,” said Sheriff Chitwood.

Chitwood then went on to comment on the actions of Deputy Adam Clausen and Sgt. Jeff Wingard, who can be seen negotiating with Chitwood, face to face with Melton at the driver’s side door of his truck.

In the video, Clausen can be seen taking a handgun out of the man’s hand as Wingard pulled him out of the truck to safety.

“I cannot say enough about Deputy Clausen and Sgt. Wingard,” Sheriff Chitwood said. “For the hours that we were out here, they're the ones who did the bulk of the negotiations. He wanted to talk to me because I was the sheriff and I was the one that could make decisions, he thought, by giving orders. But those guys did a phenomenal job, and again, everybody's going home safe.”

The Sheriff's Office also confirmed that deputies and DeLand police have responded to a suicidal person call involving Melton back in October of 2017. In that incident, he did sustain two self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the abdomen.

Melton's law enforcement experience includes employment with the DeLand Police Department between 1992 and 1994. Melton was also employed by the Sheriff's Office between 1994 and 1996. He was also employed by the Sheriff's Office for a brief period in 1997.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment