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Video: Armed Shoplifting Suspect Flees, Fires At Deputies, Barricades In Burning Home

Date Added: December 20, 2023 5:03 pm

Andrew Gant
Office of Public Affairs & Media Relations


News media: 911 audio is available for download here.

An armed shoplifting suspect who fled from deputies and then fired at them at the outset of a lengthy standoff this morning in Deltona was taken into custody safely.

One deputy was grazed by the suspect’s bullet but avoided life-threatening injury. Another bullet struck a sergeant’s ballistic shield.

Deputies responded to the Wawa at 3400 Howland Blvd. after an employee called around 4:30 a.m. reporting a regular customer reached over the counter and stole cigarettes. It was reported the suspect had a knife on his hip, but no gun was displayed.

When deputies began arriving on scene, the suspect drove at one and fled from another who attempted a traffic stop.

A deputy deployed stop sticks on the fleeing vehicle, deflating the driver’s side tires. The suspect, identified as Dempsey Hadley (DOB 3/1/1967), was still able to drive at slow speed to his home at 3230 Whitehorse Court.

Deputies conducted a felony stop on the vehicle, but Hadley ignored their commands and refused to come out.

When deputies approached to remove Hadley from the vehicle, Hadley fired.

Deputies retreated and Hadley remained in the vehicle refusing to come out. Hadley was seen setting fires inside the cab of the truck.

Deputies were able to safety evacuate the suspect’s son and a dog from his house.

Resources deployed to the scene included negotiators, SWAT, K-9s, drones and Air One along with Fire/EMS staged in the area.

SWAT used the VSO Bearcat vehicle to reposition Hadley’s truck and block it from fleeing, pushing it into the garage. He exited the truck and entered the attic. A short time later, smoke became visible from the house, followed by flames, which engulfed the upper floors of the home.

Hadley still refused to surrender as negotiations continued. He emerged onto a second-floor balcony, which SWAT first approached with the VSO Rook and then with a boom on the Bearcat to dismantle the balcony and bring Hadley to the ground, away from the burning house.

Hadley was taken into custody on the ground and treated on scene for his injuries, then transported to an area hospital. He is being charged with 3 counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement, and petit retail theft.

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