Florida Man Shoots Deputy, Sets House on Fire After Lengthy Standoff Over Stolen Cigarettes

Police officers had a four-hour standoff with the man.

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A Florida man has been arrested after he shot a deputy and then set his house on fire following a four-hour standoff with authorities that started with reports of shoplifted cigarettes.

Per The Charlotte Observer, an employee of a Wawa convenience store in Deltona called the Volusia Sheriff's Office on Thursday, Dec. 20, to report the theft of some cigarettes. When deputies arrived at the gas station, where the man was suspected of carrying a knife, the suspect drove away. In a brief chase, officers deflated his tires as his drove to his home. When he got there, he fired a shot at a 25-year-old deputy, grazing his face.

The suspect has since been identified as Dempsey Hadley. Deputies were fired at when they attempted to get him out of his vehicle, which he exited after firing from and set fire to the back of. He was forced into his home, but his vehicle burst into flames at a certain point of the standoff.

Sheriff Michael Chitwood said the home turned into a "complete inferno." In fact, officers believed Hadley might have been dead at several times during the standoff because of the scope of the fire. He paced back and forth from the inside of the house to the upstairs balcony for approximately 45 minutes. He refused to come out of the house and said he would "fight" the officers if they tried to get him out.

"The smoke that was filled in that house and the flames, how anybody can survive that without going down for smoke inhalation tells you what the mental state of this guy is," added Chitwood, who said he got a bizarre demand from Hadley when he was finally apprehended. "The first thing he says to me is ‘call the president, he’s going to pardon me for this.'"

Hadley is now in custody and suffered injuries after a K-9 bit him when he was on the ground when he failed to take his hands out of his pockets. His family was also present in the house when he first arrived, and his 21-year-old son spoke to authorities about his "extremely erratic" behavior over the past six months. They said that they tried to hide some of the ammunition inside the home during the incident, although what they couldn't recover further aggravated the blaze.

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