Patricio G. Balona
The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.
A DeLand police officer driving to the gym for a workout came upon deputies in the midst of a gunfight with a suspect wanted in the shooting of a man in DeLeon Springs earlier this month.
DeLand police Cpl. Tony Tagle pulled over, pulled out his rifle and shot at Dillon Parker who was blasting away at deputies after a chase that came to end on U.S. Highway 17 in DeLeon Springs, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“DeLand PD officer makes a U-turn when he sees the commotion,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “He gets out of the car with his assault rifle, the guy is running at him with a gun, also fires at him.”
Parker, 33, of DeLand, was struck twice — once in the chest and once in the thigh, Chitwood said.
Parker tossed his firearm when he saw law enforcement approaching him to render aid, the Sheriff’s Office said. He was airlifted in critical condition to Halifax Health Medical Center and was expected to survive.
No law enforcement officers were injured, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies had been looking for Parker, who had a warrant for his arrest in the shooting of Daniel Dekmar, 33, on Nov. 10. They received a tip around 3:30 p.m. from Lake County authorities that Parker was in a gold-colored Honda headed back to Volusia County.
Shortly after that, a deputy spotted Parker at U.S. 17 and State Road 40. Parker, who was southbound on U.S. 17, then entered the northbound lanes trying to ram the deputy’s patrol car, running him off the road, Chitwood said.
Deputies chased after Parker. The deputies used tire-deflation strips to puncture the tires on Parker’s car in the 3700 block of U.S. 17 in DeLeon Springs.
About a half-mile after that, Parker stopped the Honda and jumped out, firing at Deputy Kevin Moss.
As Parker fired at Moss, another deputy, Wesley Blum, rolled up and positioned his patrol car between Parker and Moss.
Blum fired five shots through the windshield at Parker, Chitwood said.
Parker then ran.
That’s when Tagle arrived and also started shooting at Parker.
“They’re going home tonight to their families; that’s the most important thing,” Chitwood said of the deputies and police officer involved. “…These guys did what they had to do today. They certainly didn’t come to work to shoot somebody. But the person that they were trying to take down and arrest clearly wanted to make sure that they didn’t go home to their families.”
The deputies and the DeLand officer have been placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure in officer-involved shootings, Chitwood said.
Parker was wanted in the shooting of Dekmar at his DeLeon Springs home. Dekmar identified Parker, with whom he argued in his driveway, investigators said.
Dekmar, who was shot in the back, remains in critical condition at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.
Parker faces charges of attempted murder, felony battery and aggravated battery with a firearm in Dekmar’s shooting. He will face more charges in this shootout with police.
Parker is a violent, multiple-convicted felon and the deputies and the DeLand officer “probably had an angel on their shoulder,” Chitwood said.
“You got a violent felon, who’s got his hand on a firearm, tries to take out the police and eventually ends up getting shot by us,” Chitwood said.
Tagle was recently promoted to corporal and is a member of the SWAT team, said DeLand police Chief Jason Umberger.
“He was on his way in to work out at our gym … when he saw this transpiring and, thank God, turned around and did his job.”
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