Video shows OIS of man shooting at deputies with tactical shotgun

Deputies fatally shot the man after he pointed and fired a Kel-Tec KSG gun at them following a vehicle pursuit


Katie Kustura
The News-Journal

DELTONA, Fla. — Video released Thursday from Volusia deputies' body cameras and the Sheriff's Office helicopter shows the pursuit of Gregory Howe, who was killed after shooting at deputies with a tactical shotgun.

While Howe's weapon isn't visible in the video, Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the 37-year-old was still sitting in his pickup when he leveled and fired a Kel-Tec KSG tactical shotgun at deputies Tuesday afternoon.

Those deputies — identified Wednesday as Sgt. John McDonald, 52; detective Shawn Adkins, 29; detective John Frazzini, 50; and deputy Graeme Foster, 30 — were uninjured and have been placed on administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates as is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

 
Deputy-involved shooting: 5/12/20

*WARNING: Contains video footage of a fatal shooting* Body camera and Air One video footage of this week’s deputy-involved shooting of an armed suspect in Deltona is provided here. The video begins with footage of the traffic stop conducted on Gregory Howe by a DeLand police officer. After Howe flees the traffic stop, the video transitions to footage recorded by the Sheriff’s Office Air One helicopter, followed by footage from two deputies who were involved and had body cameras recording during the incident. At this point in the investigation of the shooting, based on physical evidence, witness accounts and video, we believe Howe leveled a Kel-Tec KSG tactical shotgun at deputies and fired one time. Howe’s shotgun was recovered from inside his truck and was discovered to have been loaded with 13 rounds, 1 of which had been discharged. During the approximately 10 seconds of gunfire, four deputies fired 82 times, striking Howe multiple times and resulting in fatal injury. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigation of the shooting is ongoing. Again, all the information provided by the Sheriff’s Office is preliminary and based on the information available at this time, prior to us interviewing the deputies involved.

Posted by Volusia Sheriff's Office on Thursday, May 14, 2020

Also released Thursday morning was a letter from Brodie Hughes, president of the union of Volusia County deputies, to Jason Umberger, police chief in DeLand.

In the letter, Hughes criticizes Umberger for holding Wednesday afternoon "an appalling press conference attempting to distance the DeLand Police Department from yesterday's shooting involving our deputies."

 

In response to Deland Police Chief Umberger's statement about our deputies involved shooting, we have issued the attached response. The ball is in your court Chief.

Posted by Volusia County Deputies Association, Local 6035 on Thursday, May 14, 2020

Howe's first contact with law enforcement on Tuesday occurred when a DeLand officer pulled him over about 2:45 p.m. for not wearing a seat belt, DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger said.

During the press conference held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at DeLand police headquarters, Umberger said he wanted to make it clear that his officers didn't pursue Howe at any point after Howe drove off from the traffic stop, ignoring the DeLand officer's commands.

In a phone interview Thursday, Chitwood said he didn't understand why Umberger was injecting himself into the situation when Chitwood said during Tuesday's press conference that it was the sheriff's helicopter and deputies that followed Howe.

"I'm asked the question for the third time and I said 'we joined the pursuit,' and that's what got them all fired up for whatever reason," Chitwood said Thursday.

Hughes, in his letter to Umberger, which was posted on the union's and sheriff's Facebook pages, said Howe's choices led to his "untimely death."

"The moment he made the decision to escalate his law enforcement encounter by fleeing, brandished a semi-automatic rifle, and took aim at our deputies, the outcome was decided," Hughes wrote. 

Hughes also criticized Umberger for a "lack of empathy shown toward our deputies as they cope with the physical and emotional tolls of using deadly force."

"I'm grateful that our officers and the deputies involved in this incident are safe. That's what I wanted to convey," Umberger said. "I don't have an issue with Sheriff Chitwood, I never did. I was just trying to do what was best for our police department and our city."

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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