Saturday night, residents of Palm Coast’s E-Section got an unnerving, automated alert on their phones. “It’s always fun getting a text telling you a fugitive with a gun is loose on your block,” one resident wrote, alerting friends on Facebook.
It would be 60 mninutes between the time the incident was reported and the time Larry Briggene Batson, a 41-year-old resident of 31 Ebb Tide Drive in Palm Coast, was arrested. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly misinterpreted UCT time as local time, and placed the arrest at 3:27 instead of 11:27 p.m.)
Earlier that evening, Batson had allegedly pulled a gun on his wife because she would not turn the car around so he could go fetch his dog.
It started over Batson getting his vehicle stuck somewhere in Espanola. He and his 49-year-old wife argued over it, then agreed that she would drive him to his sister’s house for the night. They got in the car, along with Batson’s 22-year-old son, and started driving, with his wife at the wheel. As they approached East Hampton Drive, Batson said he wanted his dog and demanded that his wife turn the car around. She refused. He allegedly “removed a black Sig Sauer handgun from his waistband and began to point it” at both his wife and son, according to his arrest report.
“You wanna die?” Batson allegedly told his wife and son as he pointed the gun at them.
The 22-year-old son was armed with a gun himself, and would later tell sheriff’s deputies that he thought he’d have to shoot his own father to protect himself and his mother. But somehow the gun Batson was holding fell. His wife grabbed it and threw it out the car window. Batson jumped out. She drove off and called 911. She was able to see her husband pick up the gun from where she’d dropped it.
The sheriff’s office established a perimeter around the neighborhood, sent out the alert to E-Section residents, requested that Volusia County’s Air One assist in the search, and deployed a K-9 unit. Air One is equipped with a night-vision camera that allows its crew to see the sharp white outline of warm bodies at night, outside of structures.
An anonymous caller to 911 reported seeing a shadowy figure run behind a house on Emmons Lane, which led Air One to spot Batson. By then, it was 3:23 a.m.
“We’ve got someone running with jeans and no shirt, running south on Emerson Drive,” a crew member radios deputies on the ground. The video from Air One, released by the sheriff’s office, shows the man curving around Emerson Drive on foot, fast, before he stops and walks into the woods, and crouches down. Deputies are not far. They had found the firearm under a log earlier, on Eagle Place. A bullet was in the chamber. “Yeah, that’s the gun he was waving around,” his son told deputies.
“Sheriff’s Office K-9, come on out or you’re going to get bit,” the deputy leading the K-9 yells out as he approaches Batson’s position at 11:26 p.m. Moments later, Batson walks back out and sprawls on the road, his arms extended in surrender as deputies yell out orders for him to get on the ground and not move.
“We’ve got contact at gunpoint,” a deputy is heard saying over the radio.
As the deputies place the handcuffs on him, they ask his name, he answers, then ask if he’s hurt, and explain to him every move they make. About 16 minutes later, as he’s being placed in the patrol car (the video does not include footage of the time in between), Batson says something about the handcuffs being tight, then says “Jesus” a couple of times. His arrest report states that Batson denied having possession of the gun in the car, though he acknowledged grabbing it when he ran out to get his dog. He said he took the gun that his wife threw out because he feared she was going to run him over.
Batson had “ample opportunity to turn himself in to law enforcement,” the arresting deputy reported, “or flag a deputy down to inform us of the disturbance and refused to do so. Thus utilizing valuable resources for the investigation, which could have been avoided if he had not resisted.”
His wife and son declined to pursue charges.
On his way to the Flagler County jail, Batson told a deputy he just wanted to die, and that he should have let the dog kill him. He was charged with two counts of domestic violence aggravated assault (third-degree felonies), carrying a concealed firearm, and resisting an officer without violence. He was booked on $10,000 bond.