The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office today released a narrative report by the supervising sergeant who was in the house, with two other deputies, when a violent confrontation with a 32-year-old man on Brownstone Lane resulted in the man’s shooting death by a deputy on Dec. 15.
Troy Evan Gordon, 32, who lived with his grandmother, Mary Turner, at 61 Brownstone Lane, was shot and killed late Saturday afternoon in his garage, after he had allegedly been irate, destructive and wielding an 18-inch machete. After the shooting Sunday evening, authorities at the scene and a news release from the sheriff’s office stated that Gordon had gone on a rampage in the house and in the garage, and that he had “become violent towards his family earlier in the day.”
Gordon’s family is disputing that version of events. “They got a lot of things in the paper that’s not right,” Turner, 79, said on Monday. She was upset and intent on correcting the record, she said. “I raised that boy from 7 years old, and I’m not afraid of this boy.” Turner said he had not been violent toward her or anyone else in the house. “He was in the garage,” she said.
Turner said the shooting was unnecessary. “It’s a sad thing, and I’m upset about it,” she said.
The narrative, by Sgt. Larry Jones, does not mention the violence toward the family, but details the succession of events that led to the shooting after 911 received a call at 3:15 p.m. from Crystal Heart, a 29-year-old woman who lives at 61 Brownstone. Heart placed the call “in reference to a possible Baker/Marchmann Act,” the police report states. “Baker Act” is the colloquial name for the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, which gives police, doctors or judges authority to seize a person against his or her will if that person has become a danger to others or to himself. The individual is then sent to a psychiatric ward for evaluation.
There is little question, in other words, that sheriff’s deputies were responding to an issue, initiated by a resident at the house, where an individual was perceived to be a danger, at least to himself, but also possibly to others. The report states as much: Heart “stated that Troy had been doing some drugs for the past week and his behavior had become un-usual (sic.) and she was in fear for his safety, Cruystal stated that she had offered to take him to A.A. [Alcoholics Anonymous] and counseling because he was going to hurt himself or someone else. Crystal stated that she had called Troy’s brother in [North Carolina] and informed him of Troy’s behavior.”
Turner would not speak to Jones at the scene the evening of the shooting, according to the report.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting, not the sheriff’s office. Three deputies were at the house, according to Jones’s report, after the 3:15 call Sunday: Jones himself, and deputies Brandon Fiveash and Joseph Dailey. Fiveash is a seven-year veteran of the sheriff’f office, and a member of the department’s SWAT team. Dailey has been with the department since 2007. He is a K-9 handler.
Dailey and Fiveash were at the house first, preceding the arrival of Jones. Here’s how the report details the events that followed, as written by Jones.
After getting to the scene, Jones made contact with Fiveash in the kitchen area facing the garage. “Deputy Fiveash stated that Tray has been walking up and down the Street with a machete and a bible talking to himself and he was in the garage with the machete breaking things,” Jones wrote. Several neighbors described the same scene to a reporter Sunday evening. One neighbor, who lives next door to 61 Brownstone, said Gordon had at one point knelt in the street to pray, but that he’d also worried some children who’d come to talk to the neighbor about Gordon, because he had the machete. Another neighbor said Gordon had walked past his own two children with the machete.
Jones then asked Fiveash to draw his Taser. Jones “opened the laundry room door that leads into the garage,” Jones wrote. “At that point I shined my light in the garage, but I did not see Troy. I called out for him. Troy appeared from the left side of the garage. I observed a black male (Troy) in the garage with a machete talking to himself. I asked Troy to come and speak with me, he stated that he was not going down and he knows how the game goes. I, Sgt. L. Jones informed him that I just wanted to know what was going on. Troy stated that he would hurt/kill me if I attempted to come in after him. I informed Troy that I was not coming inside the garage area. At that time Troy retreated to the left side of the garage and returned with three lawn chairs and stacked them on top of a dresser that was at the door in an attempt to barricade himself in the garage.”
Maj. Steve Clair, the ranking member of the sheriff’s office at the scene Sunday evening, described the scene in similar terms, though at the time Clair mentioned two deputies had been in the house. Clair had mentioned Gordon “barricading himself” in the garage, and it had been unclear how, if he had barricaded himself, he could have charged the deputies. The report clarifies what happened next.
“When Troy walked away I, Sgt. L. Jones pushed the chairs down and attempted to regain communication with Troy,” Jones writes. “Troy then began acting aggressive towards me, I asked him to calm down.
Troy began to use profanity and became more aggressive, swinging the machete above his head striking a light bulb in the ceiling. I attempted to communicate with Troy once again. I backed up a step, Deputy Fiveath was to the left side of me, just slightly in front of me. At that time Troy placed the machete above his head and stated that he was going to kill us and we were going to need a body bag,” Jones writes.
At that point, “Troy came toward Deputy Fiveash and Deputy Dailey. Deputy Fiveash deployed his Taser. Tray fell backwards with the machete in hand.”
Clair had said that one of the deputies had fired the Taser, and that the Taser darts had, in fact, landed on Gordon. A Taser immobilizes an individual, when the darts reach their target. “At that time Deputy Fiveash stepped on the dresser with the intent to secure Tray,” Jones continues. “Once Deputy Fiveash stepped on the dresser he fell backwards. Deputy Dailey attempted to pull Deputy Fiveash backwards away from Troy. Approximately 2 seconds later Tray regained his composure and was moving in an upward manner (trying to regain his feet) with the machete toward Deputy Dailey. At
that point Deputy Dailey discharged his Glock sidearm at Troy.
“Troy was struck to the best of my knowledge, Deputy Fiveash regained his footing and went outside, and Deputy Dailey placed hand cuffs on Troy. Medic unit and Palm Coast Fire responded. Tray was pronounced deceased at the scene.”
Turner and Heart were in the house at the time of the shooting, but only the law enforcement officers were in the garage during the confrontation. It isn’t yet known if any neighbors witnessed the confrontation.
This afternoon, a friend and neighbor who was visiting Turner, but asked not to be named, said he had seen Gordon drive away and back to the house earlier Sunday afternoon, between 1 and 2 p.m., “smiling on the way to the store and back.” The neighbor said Gordon was “happy go lucky” at that point.