DEBARY, FL – A 54-year-old DeBary man who made threats of “suicide by cop” Thursday night was shot and wounded after pointing a rifle at a deputy. The defendant, Thomas M. Gentry, survived his injuries and was being treated at an area hospital Friday, after receiving initial emergency medical treatment on scene from the same deputies who had tried to convince him to drop his weapon minutes earlier.
Gentry, who is facing a charge of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, apologized to deputies as they were treating his wounds. He indicated that he’d fired one shot and said he hoped it didn’t hit anyone. At this point, the evidence on scene has not confirmed that Gentry actually was able to fire a shot.
The incident at 120 Tanglewood Drive started with a 911 call around 8:15 p.m. reporting that Gentry was highly intoxicated, threatening suicide following a domestic dispute and that if law enforcement responded, he would engage in a shootout. The caller gave detailed information about the many weapons Gentry was removing from a gun safe and taking to a shed on the property.
When deputies arrived, Gentry was in the driveway armed with a rifle. He didn’t follow commands to put down the gun, instead pointing it at a deputy who then fired multiple times to protect his own life and the lives of other deputies in the immediate area. No deputies were injured. Wounded, Gentry ran to his shed, where he was eventually taken into custody without further incident.
At a Friday afternoon news conference, Sheriff Mike Chitwood praised the response by the deputies as well as the detailed information provided by the 911 caller. While commending the deputies’ efforts to get Gentry to drop his rifle, the sheriff explained that once he pointed it in deputies’ direction, he left no choice.
“If you point a gun at us, you’re getting shot,” Sheriff Chitwood said. “That’s just how it works.”
But the sheriff also pointed to the urgent medical care Gentry received from deputies after he was wounded and disarmed:
“You watch the compassion after all this went down… They’re tying tourniquets, they’re trying to talk to the guy and calm him down… The professionalism and compassion that they show on a daily basis when confronted with these things, I don’t think there’s a word to describe it.”
The Published Reporter®