DeLand, FL - An estimated 3,000 people gathered at several locations across DeLand beginning Saturday afternoon and lasting into the early hours of this morning (May 17). The Volusia Sheriff's Office reports that during daylight, things were pretty uneventful. Things changed quickly after sunset.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood responded today by releasing video footage of the events and defending the deputies and police officers who were surrounded by agitated crowds and hit by glass bottles and other objects. The sheriff’s post reads:
Where else in Volusia County does a mob of thousands of people pack the streets? Where else are people throwing glass bottles at law enforcement and sucker punching deputies? How are we supposed to turn a blind eye to someone pointing a gun at a crowd, or two convicted felons exchanging a loaded gun right in front of our face? Our response to last night's events in DeLand was not about race. It's about public safety, and I can't believe the slant I'm reading today in The West Volusia Beacon. -Sheriff Chitwood
VSO deputies worked alongside DeLand Police officers dealing with a number of isssues. Around 10:30 p.m., a passenger pointed a long gun at a deputy and pedestrians from a moving vehicle.
Crowds gathered in several locations, impeding traffic and causing safety hazards so law enforcement began ordering vehicles out of certain areas. People would disperse and reform down the street. In the 1200 block of South Delaware Avenue, there was a crowd of about 1,500 people and vehicles, according to reports. Deputies were walking south on Delaware just after midnight when they saw two men, idenitified as Alphonso Parker and Charles Turner, exchange a firearm.
A deputy gave Turner the command to drop the gun, so Turner ran away. The deputy gave chase, Turner threw the gun but was taken to the ground nearby. The recovered firearm is a 9mm Ruger. It had 15 rounds with one round in the chamber and the hammer cocked. Turner is charged with two counts of possession of a weapon/ammunition by a convicted felon, tampering with evidence, inciting a riot and resisting an officer without violence.
Turner, already out on bond on other charges, has a criminal history that includes 25 felony charges with 5 convictions and 28 misdemeanor charges with 13 convictions.
The other man, Parker, is facing many of the same charges as Turner, with the exception of tampering with evidence. He was also charged with possession of a concealed firearm. They are both in the Volusia County Jail.
The night was not yet over for law enforcement. Two deputies were hit with a cup of alcohol. While that person was being taken into custody, one of the deputies was sucker punched by a man who immediately fled the area. Another deputy and a DeLand police officer were hit with a bar stool and mason jar by other members of the crowd who immediately fled. Glass bottles were thrown at patrols vehicles in the street while arrests were being made.
A VSO deputy sustained a minor knee injury and a DeLand police officer had a minor head injury when he was hit with the jar.