Daylong standoff in Fla. ends with 3 dead, cop hurt

By Gary Taylor, Willoughby Mariano and Susah Jacobson
Orlando Sentinel

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SWAT surround gunman who shot Fla. officer in face

ORANGE CITY, Fla. — Dixie's Pub was like any friendly sports bar, and its owners seemed to be like any other happy couple. The proprietors, a woman and her boyfriend, worked cheerily through 60- to 80-hour workweeks at the Deltona pub, which was named after their beloved pit bull.

Then Wednesday, someone opened fire on an Orange City police officer, wounding him. The woman went missing. A man was found inside Dixie's Pub, shot to death.

Authorities surrounded the Orange City-area home shared by owners Bryan Langford, 38, and Cynthia Henderson, 47. Hours later, authorities found the bodies of a man and a woman and said they likely were those of Langford and Henderson. The man's body was booby-trapped with an explosive, and guns were found in strategic spots around the house.

Volusia Sheriff Ben Johnson said the body found inside the bar was likely that of Henderson's adult son, Louis Adams, 26, who worked at the bar.

Now, investigators are trying to unravel how the pub owners' lives took such a violent turn.

The ordeal began in Lake Helen before 10:30 a.m., when Langford's ex-wife Melissa Langford called police saying he had paid a strange visit. Bryan Langford wore camouflage clothing and acted suicidal, she told authorities, adding that he owned numerous guns.

Before 11 a.m., Volusia County deputies went to Langford's home outside Orange City to check on him, with city officers as backup.

Police Officer Sherif El-Shami arrived at 1651 E. University Ave. to the sound of gunfire.

El-Shami heard four shots but didn't see where the gunfire came from, Orange City police Chief Jeff Baskoff said. At least one bullet shattered the driver's-side window of the officer's cruiser, wounding him in the face.

Investigators suspected Langford was the gunman and that he was hiding inside the home. Deputies surrounded it.

An officer drove El-Shami to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City, where emergency-room physician Dr. John Canalizo treated him for a non-life-threatening injury.

"He was conscious, awake, but very confused about what happened," Canalizo said. "He was just driving down the road and something hit him."

After 2 p.m., a man was found shot dead at Dixie's Pub at 1382 Howland Blvd. Johnson said the body was "connected" with the shooting. He also said that Henderson, the pub's co-owner, was missing.

Deputies tried unsuccessfully to contact anyone inside the University Avenue home. SWAT teams combed the woods surrounding it.

A little before 7 p.m., Volusia County deputies threw several tear-gas canisters into the home. A pit bull ran out, but no person stirred.

Deputies later entered to find firearms and ammunition placed throughout the house, as if Langford had prepared for an armed confrontation.

"It appears as if he was ready for any kind of assault," Johnson said.

Among the weapons was a 50-caliber rifle. Deputies think it was fired at El-Shami because two spent 50-caliber shells were found near the front of the house.

Deputies planned to disarm the explosive found on the man's body Wednesday so the scene could be processed this morning.

"We may never know what the motive was," Johnson added.

Officer injured

El-Shami got out of surgery about 7:30 p.m., Baskoff said. It was unclear whether his sight was damaged, he said.

El-Shami was hurt by shrapnel that entered his left eye and hit him above his right eye, the chief said, but authorities were not certain whether the officer was actually shot.

Baskoff described El-Shami as an excellent officer who is part of the Special Response Team, which is similar to a SWAT team.

El-Shami joined the department in 2007. The 2002 Deltona High graduate is easygoing and a skilled athlete, say those who know him.

"He's just a very outgoing, athletic and energetic person -- an outstanding young man," said Peyton Yon, father-in-law of El-Shami's sister.

El-Shami is the school's record holder in 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, Deltona High School track Coach Paul Williams said.

"He was the best hurdler I've ever had," he said.

'They had no troubles'

News of the shootings shocked family and friends, who said Langford showed no recent signs of stress. Peggy Covert, owner of Chop Shop Steakhouse next door to the bar, said the last time she saw him was Tuesday,when he fixed her restaurant's ice machine.

Langford was the last man you'd expect to lash out violently, Covert said

"You couldn't make him mad," she said. "He'd just walk away."

Langford worked as Dixie's Pub's all-around fix-it man, and Henderson was the brains behind the business, she said.

"And everything was great," Covert added.

But everything wasn't as it seemed. Court records show Langford was the defendant in a foreclosure proceeding filed by Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. in January over a house in DeLand.

Years earlier, Melissa Langford asked for a domestic-violence injunction against her husband. Records indicate the injunction was filed in June 2000 and that she changed her mind in August. She filed a request for a protective injunction in August 2001 and again sought a voluntary dismissal less than two weeks later.

The couple loved dogs and brought their pets to work.

Covert and Henderson shared their troubles as fellow business owners during a steep recession.

Despite the troubled economy, Dixie's Pub seemed to be thriving, Covert said. Their pool league games were popular, and they had a crowd of devoted regulars.

"They had no troubles. I can't imagine this happening," Covert said.

Copyright 2009 Orlando Sentinel

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