Cops shoot man near Publix on DeLand's north side
BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN
Fatal shooting — A body lies covered in this black Mercedes after law-enforcement officers shot a man who fired on them and at buildings on Old Daytona Road on DeLand's north side this evening. Witnesses, including a couple whose pickup was rammed by the Mercedes as they pulled out of Lowe's, said they heard officers order the man multiple times to drop his weapon, Sheriff Mike Chitwood and DeLand Acting Police Chief Randel Henderson said.
An unidentified man who was driving a later-model black Mercedes is dead after he pulled a gun on law-enforcement officers on Old Daytona Road and fired at other buildings on DeLand's north side this evening.
According to DeLand Acting Police Chief Randel Henderson and Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who spoke to members of the news media on the scene, the incident began at a law office at 919 Biscayne Blvd. on the DeLand Municipal Airport. The lawmen said police received a 9-1-1 call from a woman concerned about a possibly suicidal man armed with "multiple weapons" who had been drinking and was upset about his divorce.
Chitwood said the man, later identified as 45-year-old Mario Simoes of DeLand, drove west about 1 mile from the office to the scene of the fatal shooting, reaching speeds of possibly 100 mph, and firing on officers.
Simoes had previously been profiled in The Beacon for climbing Mount Everest and the other highest peaks in the world.
"From what we understand, yes, the officers were placed under fire," Henderson told reporters.
As the Mercedes traveled westbound on Old Daytona Road, it rear-ended a couple leaving the nearby Lowe's home-improvement store in a white pickup. The collision sent the pickup into the air, Chitwood said, but the couple was reportedly OK.
"Thank God they're alive," Chitwood said. He noted the couple said they had considered going to Lowe's in their smaller car, but had decided to take the sturdier pickup instead.
Both the DeLand Police Department and the Volusia County Sheriff's Office sent officers to the scene in response to the 9-1-1 call. Over the course of the 1-mile pursuit, they tried twice to halt the Mercedes with stop sticks, Chitwood said.
Two VCSO deputies, Sgt. Mike Chilcot and Deputy Brant Lickiss, and one DPD office, Officer Jason Floryance, fired on the man, killing him, Chitwood and Henderson said. All three officers are on paid administrative leave, as is standard procedure pending an investigation of the shooting. Witnesses, including the couple in the white pickup, heard police give multiple warnings to Simoes, Chitwood said.
"A preliminary investigation indicates deputies and police called for Simoes to drop the gun and/or show his hands in excess of 30 times during a span of about two minutes leading up to the moment they fired," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Gary Davidson.
"They just kept hearing deputies and DeLand police officers saying, 'Drop the gun, drop the gun, drop the gun,'" Chitwood said.
Witnesses said more than two dozen law-enforcement vehicles, plus ambulances and other emergency vehicles, were on the scene on Old Daytona Road. The Publix remained open, one shopper reported.