The few times that Aaron Thayer has been in the news locally go back to May 2015, when his 58-year-old father George Contos of Apricot Avenue in Daytona North disappeared and Thayer sought the Flagler County Sheriff’s help to find him. Contos’s 1997 car was subsequently found empty in a Palm Coast strip mall. Months later a message from Thayer was read at the unveiling of a billboard on State Road A1A offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Contos’s discovery, or recovery.
On Saturday, Thayer, 39, who was armed and had been reportedly chasing his girlfriend with a gun, was felled by a taser dart at the edge of his father’s property as he refused to comply with deputies’ orders to get on the ground. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Thayer had been working in Connecticut, where his family originates. His long-time girlfriend, with whom Thayer has a daughter, had been going through a breakup with him. She was still at the Apricot Avenue property, which Thayer had ringed with security cameras that he could monitor from Connecticut.
On Friday, she alerted sheriff’s deputies that Thayer had texted her explicit threats that he’d come down from Connecticut and kill her: “Hope you die.” “I’m coming down and I’m gonna fix this for ever.” “Imma kill you.” He also accused her of cheating on him. She told a deputy that in December 2020, Thayer had strangled her and battered her at the 5853 Apricot Avenue home, but she didn’t report it to law enforcement, and that he’d previously kicked her in the face with steel toe boots. (He has a 2002 felony conviction for assault in Connecticut.)
Even as she was speaking with deputies, she kept receiving texts and questions from Thayer wondering whom he was seeing in the surveillance camera footage. He called, she answered, placing him on speaker phone for the deputies to hear him ask “who the fuck were you with that was on my property?” (The property is still in Contos’s name.) He asks her where she was. She remained silent. Deputies then heard him explicitly threaten murder, his words laced with insults.
His girlfriend told the deputies that she feared he’d get on a plane or in a car and come down to kill her. She declined an offer to go to a safe location.
A warrant for Thayer’s arrest was signed. The charge: written threats to kill. Deputies pinged his phone. It showed he was on the move, traveling south, until the pinging turned up empty, suggesting he’d turned off his phone.
The frantic 911 calls from his girlfriend came the next day at 3:25 p.m. In the first, she tells a dispatcher that he’d arrived at the house and was breaking in–with what would later be determined to be a tire iron he’d picked up from his father’s truck. But the line dropped. In the second call moments later, the woman is heard running and saying, “he’s got a gun,” as she was attempting to evade him.
As deputies ran toward him, Thayer defied their orders to get on the ground. “This is ridiculous bro, this is my fucking house,” he said, standing near the edge of the driveway, his hands crossed over his head.
“On your knees,” “Do it now,” two deputies kept repeating, and when he asked “what for,” a deputy fired the taser.
“Signal zero, he’s got a fucking gun in his waistband,” a deputy warns–the second time in three weeks that Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies have confronted an armed and resisting suspect. (He was also charged with resisting arrest.)
He was compliant after that, turning around in his Hatebreed t-shirt to be handcuffed, but also yelling at his girlfriend, perhaps assuming she was near: “what the fuck, I love you, I came here for you.”
“So where do I go from here, man?” Thayer asked later as he stood by a patrol car, before being placed in it.
“To jail,” a deputy tells him.
“For, for-for real? To jail? For what?”
“Threats to kill.”
“Pfffft. Wow. Unreal.”
“No, it’s very real,” the deputy tells him.
His arrest report notes that he’d taken the gun from the dresser in his girlfriend’s bedroom–as well as $400 in cash that she had there, provided to her by a friend after she said Thayer had withdrawn all funds from their account. To deputies in an interview later, Thayer said he was not intending to hurt her nor deputies, and would not do so. He had allegedly admitted to a friend with whom he’d driven down that he’d written the threatening texts, but also that he hoped his girlfriend didn’t take his texts seriously. It’s not clear why he had not texted to say as much–or to say that he was traveling down because he missed his family and wanted to spend Easter with them, as he told deputies later.
He told deputies he’d used the tire iron to break into the house because he’d forgotten his keys. He told them he’d grabbed the gun because he needed it as self-protection “or to use against what he believed to be [his girlfriend’s] new boyfriend,” according to a deputy’s report.
“This guy told the victim he was going to kill her and less than 24-hours later he had driven all night and was at her door to kill her,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement. “I am so thankful that my deputies were able to intercept this guy and used their training, tactics and de-escalation techniques before he was able to hurt anyone. They handled a very volatile and dangerous situation by running toward danger to protect the victim. This situation that could have had an entirely different outcome with either the victim, suspect or deputies injured or killed if not for the heroic efforts of our deputies.”