Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood is not happy that undercover Orange County deputies watched while five teenagers were left “unimpeded” to burglarize a DeBary gun store, stealing 18 firearms over the weekend.
Chitwood, on Tuesday, is more bothered by his belief that Orange County deputies knew the crime was going to occur and did not notify or ask for help from Volusia County deputies.
Instead, officials from Orange County asked Volusia law officers to stay away.
“You have an outside agency, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, who follows a stolen vehicle through two counties, watches them commit a burglary in a gun shop where 18 guns are stolen and then drive back to Orange County before you take that car down,” Chitwood said.
Chitwood said that Orange County deputies at no point in time asked for assistance.
“In fact you request that we stay out of the area while this felony takes place not to mention the fact that gun shop owner occasionally sleeps in that shop,” said Chitwood.
Chitwood said he has not been able to get in contact with Sheriff Jerry Demings.
Demings, who is running for Orange County mayor, did not return a message left for him by The News-Journal on Tuesday afternoon.
The deputies followed the group back to Orlando where they arrested them after a traffic stop. All but one of the firearms, a .380 caliber Glock 42 handgun, were recovered, sheriff’s spokesman Andrew Gant said.
“What makes me furious is that somebody could have been killed,” Chitwood said, calling the actions of Orange County deputies an aberration.
In a 9-1-1 recording, an Orange County sheriff’s dispatcher can he heard calling a Volusia County dispatcher and telling her to not send units to the gun store if they receiver a burglary alarm alert.
“They are asking if your units can stay out of the area. They are watching an armed burglary suspect,” The Orange County dispatcher tells the Volusia dispatcher. “They don’t need your assistance.”
The Orange County dispatcher called two more times asking for local deputies not to be sent to the gun store.
“They made entry, our units are watching,” the Orange County dispatcher said. “They just want you guys to hold off on sending anybody and I’ll call you back once the suspects leave because we are going to follow them.”
According to Volusia County sheriff’s officials, five teens from Orlando burglarized the SWUB Tactical gun store, 36 S. Charles R. Beall Blvd., in DeBary around 3 a.m. Saturday.
The suspects — Jaquez Tuijay Smith, 19; Marcus Ellington, 17; Jaheim Shelton, 16; Darrion Montgomery, 15; and Rodreakas Smith, 15 — stole $14,580 worth of firearms from the DeBary business, investigators said.
Volusia County deputies charged the teens with grand theft and armed burglary.
Orange County deputies, who’d followed the stolen vehicle in which the boys were traveling, watched the suspects at about 3 a.m. Saturday smash the windows of SWUB Tactical. The suspects then broke into multiple locked cases and took 18 firearms including handguns, shotguns and AR-10 and AR-15 rifles.
It would have been nice if Orange County would have shared information with Volusia deputies so Volusia units and a helicopter could have been in place to stop the burglary, Chitwood said.
The sheriff said he’s addressed the incident with his watch commanders.
“I don’t know where the breakdown came from but I’m optimistic that this will never happen again,” Chitwood said.
“I would not allow my deputies to go into another jurisdiction and just operate unimpeded and tell people to stay out of their way,” Chitwood said.
“If another Sheriff’s Office says they are a following a car and that car is stolen and it enters our jurisdiction, we’ll do out best to take that stolen car out,” Chitwood said. “We are not going to stay out of our own area because another jurisdiction tells us to.”
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