An armed suspect who fired at Volusia County sheriff’s deputies was fatally wounded Thursday afternoon and a VCSO sergeant survived with a grazing gunshot wound to the head in a shooting that erupted near Interstate 4 after the suspect carjacked a woman at gunpoint in Deltona, led deputies on a pursuit to the DeLand area and appeared to be ready to carjack another innocent person. The initial carjacking was reported around 2:21 p.m. at a home on the 2500 block of Ludlow Street in Deltona, where the victim said a man got in her truck, pointed a gun at her, demanded her keys and then took off in the vehicle. Deputies attempted to stop the stolen truck in Deltona, but the suspect continued fleeing erratically. At one point, the suspect swerved at a deputy who deployed stop sticks on the truck. As he fled, the suspect appeared to be waving a handgun out the driver’s side window.
After several stop stick hits, with all four tires appearing to be deflated, the truck slowed to a crawl and came to a stop on State Road 44 in front of the Volusia County Fairgrounds. The suspect got out of the truck with the gun still in his hand and ran in the direction of several motorists who were stopped on the road next to him. A deputy drove his unmarked SUV in the suspect’s direction, preventing him from reaching another potential carjacking victim, and the suspect ran the other direction and opened fire at several other responding deputies. Deputies returned fire, striking the suspect several times. Still armed with the handgun, the suspect went into the woods, where deputies ultimately took him into custody, brought him out and performed first aid before he was transported to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The deceased is Phillip Thomas Marsh, 30 (DOB 12/7/1988), of Lake Helen. Marsh had been reported missing and suicidal earlier this week and at the time, it was noted he was known to act violently toward law enforcement and has made threats of “suicide by cop” and suicide by other means. The sergeant who received the graze wound to the head is Sgt. Thomas Dane, 54, who has been a VCSO deputy for 30 years (hire date in July 1988). Footage from Sgt. Dane’s body-worn camera indicates he was shot soon after emerging from his vehicle. His hat was found lying on the road with an entry hole next to the “SHERIFF’S K-9 UNIT” logo on the front, and an exit hole a few inches above that. He was treated and released from Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.
In total, five deputies fired at Marsh. The exact number of shots fired is unconfirmed at this time. It’s believed Marsh fired multiple times. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting the official investigation into the shooting. Those who fired their weapons have been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard following a deputy-involved shooting. Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who was one of several units involved in the pursuit and was on scene during the shooting itself, commended the tactics and coordination of all involved. “Everything that they did was to try to prevent what happened – knowing that this was probably what was going to happen,” Chitwood said, adding: “I know tonight when I go home, I’ll be saying a prayer thanking the good Lord that Sgt. Dane will be back to work real soon.” The area of the incident was reopened to traffic around 8 p.m. Thursday.