Last Updated: Sunday, 11:35 a.m.
A Flagler County Sheriff’s Deputy shot and killed a young man on Brownstone Lane in Palm Coast around 4:45 Saturday afternoon (Dec. 15) as the man was wielding a Bible in one hand and a machete in the other, and had become violent toward his family.
Troy Gordon, 32, man was pronounced dead at the scene of gunshots. Flagler County Fire Flight, the county’s emergency helicopter, was briefly in the air when there may have been hopes of saving the man, but the helicopter then returned to its base at the Flagler County Airport.
Joseph Dailey, the deputy who shot Gordon, in an enclosed area in the house, was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler, as was deputy Brandon Fiveash, after both suffered minor injuries to their ears. Fiveash has been with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office since 2005 and is a member of the agency’s Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT, team. Dailey has been with the agency since 2007 and is a K-9 handler.
Just before 7 p.m., Maj. Steve Clair, at the scene, described the succession of events that led to the fatal shooting: Gordon had been on a rampage in the house, destroying and upsetting things. A young woman who also lives there, and whose identity is not being released, called 911. Two deputies were in the house, talking, negotiating, and telling Gordon to “stand down” (a neighbor heard the deputies yell out the command at least twice) when the man–whose first name is Troy–began “barricading himself” in the garage, and charging the deputies.
The shooting itself happened just as the two deputies were in the space between the laundry room and the garage. As Gordon was charging them, machete in hand, Fiveash fired his Taser. The Taser dart did hit Gordon. But Clair said Gordon kept charging. At that point, Dailey fired the shots in quick succession. Gordon was killed in the garage. It isn’t yet known how many shots were fired.
Troy’s grandmother and the other woman, possibly Gordon’s brother’s girlfriend, were in the house. They are uninjured. Just after 7 p.m., they were being taken away from the house and cared for by friends.
Neighbors heard several shots fired, some saying up to six shots in quick succession. (More details will post soon, with interviews of neighbors and friends.)
The disturbance began in mid-afternoon following a call for a Baker Act–when individuals may be forcibly removed and taken to a psychiatric ward in Daytona Beach, often against their will because they have become a danger to themselves or to others. The man had become severely delusional about the end of the world–or the end for him, according to the sheriff’s office. Family members, according to the sheriff’s office, said the man had become paranoid “and may have been using synthetic marijuana,” according to a sheriff’s release.
Neighbors reported seeing Gordon walking down the street, past two children, with the machete in his hand. There had been reports of Gordon smashing up various things in his garage.
“It’s actually a pretty nice block, you don’t see this sort of thing around here,” said Jason Andre, a neighbor who lives two houses down. He has two young children, a 2 and 7-year-old. “That’s why I’m standing here in the cold, making sure they’re OK.”
He added: “It can happen to anybody. People need to realize that, man. They can’t talke their safety for granted.”
At 6:30 p.m., police tape had been stretched, blocking off both ends of Brownstone Lane on either side of the property. The block is expected to be an active crime scene through the night. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will be conducting the investigation. It had not yet arrived at the scene at 6:30.
It is normal protocol, when a sheriff’s deputy is involved in a suspect’s shooting death, that the FDLE conducts the investigation. It is also normal protocol that the deputy is placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. That is not an indication or suggestion of wrongdoing: it is the case in most police agencies. Both Dailey and Fiveash will be on administrative leave, Clair said, likely for a few days.
Roger Smyth, a retiree from New York and a former member of the Miltary Police, lives one house down from 61 Brownstone, and knows Marie Turner, Troy’s grandmother, who raised him after his mother died of cancer. Smyth has done odd jobs at Turner’s house, helping her out (she is in a wheelchair). He described the events that led up to the shooting.
“I’m putting bushes in over here, and four or five kids from the neighborhood that know me and the dog came by and said, there’s a guy walking up and down and he looks crazy, he has a knife, a gun, something on his side, and he’s walking around with a book—Bible,” Smyth said. “The kids told me this. So I came out, I said don’t be afraid, they were scared, don’t be afraid. I walked out, and I saw he was walking up and down the street. He stops, gets on his knees, and he was praying. And then he walks into the house, and I guess that’s when the girlfriend of the other person that was there came by. That’s as far as I knew. And then after that I heard gunshots. Freaked me out. Just to hear the gunshots. But he was kind of a depressive kid.”
Smyth talked to Troy from time to time. “He was actually recently getting a little attitude when people walked by with their dogs,” Smyth said, “if they stopped by, outside there, he says, get out of here, get your dogs away. He was just an upset person. For whatever reason, I’m not that sure.”
Smyth recalled the time he installed a garbage disposal for Turner. Troy was there. “I was trying to show him things,” he said. “He seemed to want to learn a little bit, but there was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of thing, and then it’s later, he’s a different person, so, you know, it’s kind of like—I just keep my distance.”
Of the actual shooting, Smyth said: “It was rapid but not deliberate. It didn’t seem like it was something angry or anything.” “I believe I heard them stay stand down twice, and that I heard from here, stand down, stand down, pop-pop-pop-pop-pop.”
As night fell, so did a thick fog, settling on the neighborhood (and the rest of the city) with a damp chill. Smyth was in his driveway, the flashing reds and blues from a few cruisers inside the crime scene providing most of what there was of light.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” Smyth said. “I’m still shaking inside, just hearing the gunshots. I’m not relaxed at all. And I’m from New York, you’d think I can handle something, but no, it’s just too close. You see things on the news, you hear it, you shake your head, yeah yeah yeah, but when it comes that close to home, then the reality hits. I mean, I’ve seen it when I was a kid in new York, but I’m retired, I came here to retire.”
On Feb. 21, William Carson Merrill shot and killed his wife with an AK-47 while she was tending to their daughter’s bath, and as Merrill had trained the rifle on her chest, thinking it was not loaded. He pulled the trigger, and Stefanie Merrill died shortly after. Merill was sentenced to 25 years in prison last
Not counting suicides involving firearms, this was the third case of a fatal shooting in Flagler County this year. In march, Paul Miller, a 66-year-old resident of Flagler Beach, shot and killed his neighbor during an argument over Miller’s barking dog. Miller is awaiting trial, scheduled for Feb. 25.