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 Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Air One helicopter, followed by footage from two deputies who were involved and had body cameras recording during the incident.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood said based on physical evidence, witness accounts, and video, they believe Howe leveled a Kel-Tec KSG tactical shotgun at deputies and fired one time.
Article continued below
Howe’s shotgun was allegedly recovered from inside his truck and was discovered to have been loaded with 13 rounds, one of which had been discharged.
During the approximately 10 seconds of gunfire, four deputies fired 82 rounds, striking Howe multiple times and killing him.
The deputies who fired their weapons were Sgt. John McDonald, 52, hire date August 2002, Det. Shawn Adkins, 29, hire date October 2015, Det. John Frazzini, 50, hire date October 2001, and Deputy Graeme Foster, 30, hire date April 2011.
The incident began shortly before 3 p.m. with a traffic stop in the area of South Clara and West Beresford avenues in DeLand, where Howe, driving a white GMC pickup, fled from a DeLand PD officer. Howe, who was the only occupant of the vehicle, continued towards his home in Deltona as deputies responded to assist in the apprehension.
After multiple successful stop stick hits, Howe was still able to reach his residence located on the 500 block of Haversham Road in the Saxon Ridge neighborhood of Deltona.
During the pursuit, as seen in the video, a deputy also struck a wrong vehicle with stop sticks.
DeLand Police Chief Jason D. Umberger has distanced his department from the shooting as his officers are not allowed to engage in high-speed chases involving misdemeanor crimes such as driving on a suspended license. Umberger, as do many others, feel that if they have all identifying information on the driver, that a high-speed chase would only put innocent lives in danger.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood, said, “I was saddened to learn via the news media that the main concern of the lightweight Police Chief of DeLand is to call a news conference and make sure everyone knows his officers didn’t pursue or follow this suspect.
Call it whatever you want – pursuit, chase, following at low speed – our deputies on the ground and our Air One crew in the sky were tracking this suspect all the way to Deltona, where, after multiple stop stick hits deflated his tires, he made a final decision that cost him his life.
My first call-out on the radio after I heard “Shots fired” was to find out if our guys were OK.
Chief Umberger’s biggest concern is about his pursuit policy.”
In the past two weeks, multiple innocent people have been killed after deputies in Orange County initiated high-speed pursuits. One of the victims was a 2-year-old child. That family is now trying to get a bill introduced that would ban police chases statewide. In Citrus County, a motorcycle rider recently lost his legs after being hit by a truck being chased by deputies due to the driver driving on a suspended license.
Howe was being chased because he fled over a suspended driver’s license, however, after his death, Chitwood said they believe he matches the description of a man who shot a woman in the chest in Orange City on April, 26.
“A few days after that shooting in Orange City, Howe was pulled over and charged with carrying a concealed firearm after a traffic stop by Daytona Beach PD,” Chitwood said.
Some citizens have expressed outrage via social media.
Thomas Williams wrote, “Collateral damage is all the citizens are to you as long as ‘your team’ is ok, right? And I don’t care who you are, 82 rounds is absolute overkill.”
Tina Evans wrote, “I understand the job is hard and he may or may not match the description of an unknown shooter, but endangering lives over a suspended driver’s license is not OK. My department never allowed high-speed pursuits. Because it does endanger lives.”
Others fully support high-speed pursuits.
Jack Long wrote, “If innocent people get hurt, that is a part of life. They have to get the bad guys off the streets. Who is to say this guy did not shoot others at a later time.”
Chitwood said, “The critics, second-guessers, and even the lightweight police chiefs can say what they want and argue semantics all day. I’ll just be here supporting the men and women doing proactive police work and making a difference in the safety of our communities all over Volusia County.”
As of June 11, 2020, the investigation was still ongoing. FDLE said it could take months.
What do you think? Do you support high-speed pursuits? Do you think the shooting was overkill?