Last Updated: 4 p.m.
See body cam footage and a minute-by-minute account of the the incident here.
Three Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies fired and wounded a man who was a passenger in a car during a traffic stop in the Mondex, or Daytona North, just before midnight Wednesday in the first local officer-involved shooting in the county since December 2012.
The individual who was shot had in a previous encounter with deputies twice dared a deputy to shoot him.
FlaglerLive had learned the identity of the man early this morning as Steven Eugene Barneski. The sheriff confirmed Barneski’s identity in a press conference in front of the old Sheriff’s Operations Center in Bunnell in mid-afternoon.
Barneski, who is white, was taken to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach. “If the individual succumbs to his injuries I’m to be called right away and given that update, so I have not received that phone call,” Sheriff Rick Staly said at 5:30 this morning. Staly said the suspect is a convicted felon with a long record.
As of 3:30 this afternoon, Staly was describing by Barneski’s condition as serious. Preliminary indications were that deputies fired five shots and struck him with four or five bullets.
The three deputies involved in the shooting are David Lichty and Kyle Gaddie, both employed at the agency since 2016, and Jayed Capella, a detective employed since 2018.
Barneski was in a Toyota Corolla driven either by his wife or girlfriend when deputies attempted to pull him over, their emergency lights flashing. He drove on to his driveway and refused to get out, asking of the deputies who they were, though they were in deputy uniforms and emergency lights were still flashing. Staly said. He’d pulled up his passenger side window, and at one point “abruptly reached under his seat” for a weapon, Staly said. Deputies fired.
After deputies fired, Barneski held on to the gun as deputies kept telling him to drop it, and that paramedics would tend to his wounds. Barneski eventually threw the weapon out the widow and was secured. Volusia County’s Air One emergency helicopter flew him to Halifax hospital.
“Deputies were aware of a possible fugitive that was known to live in the west side of Flagler County,” Staly, who got to the scene at 11:45, said. “Deputies spotted a suspect as a passenger in a vehicle and pulled the vehicle over. As they attempted to get the passenger out of the car, he pulled a gun and three deputies fired at him, and he was struck multiple times. He continued to hold a gun and ultimately relinquished the gun, which allowed Flagler County Fire Rescue to attend to him, and he was transported to Halifax hospital.”
“We’re not releasing his name yet but we will later today,” Staly had said early this morning. “I can tell you he has an extensive criminal history.” He added: “Our deputies are very familiar with him from what I understand. He is known to not like law enforcement, has an extensive history involving weapons and narcotics. He’s a convicted felon so legally he was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm.”
The incident took place at 11:12 p.m. Wednesday on a dirt road at 6262 Sabal Palms Street, at the southwest end of Daytona North. The property is owned by Barneski, a 30-year-old probationer who was sentenced to probation in 2019 and had a warrant for probation violation issued Monday. He had violated probation by visiting a bar last week and refusing to submit to a urinalysis the next day, acsording to his probation-violation report.
He was last arrested in January 2019 on four charges, including carrying a concealed weapon. He was found guilty on all four. The sheriff’s office routinely refers to individuals with arrest warrants as fugitives. Barneski served a two-year stint in state prison for charges that included an attempt to deprive an officer of a means of protection or communications, and resisting an officer with violence, in 2012.
When FlaglerLive reported on that incident, the account included a deputy’s description of the confrontation, started by the serving of a warrant:
“It appeared as though he was going to walk away from my direction as I quickly got out of my car and approached toward him. He turned his head to look at me and I stated ‘Steven’ and he acknowledged me. I told him to remove his hands from his pockets and he complied as I grabbed his left wrist placing it behind his back at the same time telling him he was under arrest. Steven Barneski quickly whirled his body left and threw a closed fist punch toward my head (unknown if he hit me) as I tackled him to the ground landing on top of him. While on top of him, I continually ordered him to stop resisting as he continued to fight me by trying to throw punches, head butt me and tried biting me. As I tried calling for assistance on my police radio, I could feel Steven Barneski grabbing the left side of my gun belt which I realized was my radio as I could feel him trying to pry it from the holder. I secured his left arm from moving using a joint compliance technique as he again tried to bite me and head butt me. I again tried calling for assistance when I realized my radio was now broken and lying on the ground. A male [witness] came to my assistance holding Steven Barneski’s right arm stating, ‘you can’t fight with the police,’ as Steven Barneski yelled back ‘I don’t give a shit, shoot me I don’t care.'”Steven Barneski again tried gouging me with his teeth violently flailing his head toward me with his mouth open. I handcuffed his left wrist as he again lunged toward me with his head striking my left wrist with his teeth. I told him I would shoot him if need be as he again yelled, ‘I don’t care, kill me now.’”
This afternoon Staly raised the possibility that because of his past encounters with police, Barneski’s latest encounter may have been an attempted suicide by cop, though he said that will be determined by FDLE.
“Under our protocol FDLE was contacted to conduct a deputy involved shooting incident and they arrived at the scene to begin their investigation,” Staly said of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “The deputies are fine, obviously, shook up because nobody in law enforcement wants to use their firearm. But at the end of the day they have to defend themselves and go home. You pull a gun on a deputy sheriff, you’re likely going to get shot.”
Sheriff’s deputies have been involved in nearly a dozen confrontations since 2012 where the situation could have resulted in an officer-involved shooting, but did not, thanks to de-escalation techniques and restrain. The sheriff’s office just last month issued a release touting those achievements. “Our deputies are well trained on deescalation, he did not give us an opportunity to use any of the deescalation techniques,” Staly said.
The individual who was shot was a passenger in a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle was not injured and was being interviewed by FDLE. There is body camera footage of the incident. That evidence, along with radio transmission recordings, has been collected. The deputies involved are on paid administrative leave, as is the protocol following such incidents. The department’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team has been activated. It will debrief both the deputies and the 911 dispatch center personnel involved.
“It’s also traumatic for our dispatchers,” Staly said. “They’re on the other end of a radio not knowing if a deputy has been injured or not, and they take the safety of the deputies that they dispatch and interact with, on an hourly basis, minute by minute basis, to heart, very seriously, it affects a lot of people serving the community.”
Staly spoke with reporters at the scene earlier this morning, and said he would do so again later today.
“I think our deputies are well trained,” Staly said. “They performed exceptionally well with the actions of the suspect. Sometimes the actions the suspect takes allow us to use our deescalation techniques. In this case it just happened too quick. When you pull a gun, you know you’re wanted and you’re a fugitive and you pull a gun on a deputy sheriff, you’re very likely” going to get shot, Staly said. “It’s tragic, it’s tragic for the deputies involved, it’s tragic for the individual involved and their family, but our response was dictated by the suspect’s action. What I saw on the scene, the deputies performed extremely well, they did their job, they survived a dangerous encounter with a known fugitive and basically a dangerous individual.”
In the afternoon press conference, he said “our agency has an outstanding record of being able to de-escalation situations, that has been commended by various news outlets. But sometimes suspects escalate the situation before any of those tactics can be implemented.” He said today’s incident could have had a “far worse outcome.”
The last time Flagler County sheriff’s deputies–or any local law enforcement officers in the county–shot a person goes back to Dec. 15, 2012, when two deputies shot and killed Troy Gordon, 32, at 61 Brownstone Lane in Palm Coast after the man had reportedly become violent with his family, then in a confrontation with the deputies in his garage. In August 2014, U.S. Marshals shot and killed Bunnell resident Corey Tanner at a house in Espanola, mistaking a bottle of cologne for a weapon.
[This is a developing story.]