For the past couple of weeks what talk had occupied neighbors about their stretch of road along Point Pleasant Drive in Palm Coast was the unusual, sudden construction activity: two lots within a few blocks of each other were just razed of trees and replaced with the buzz of contractors preparing new house foundations, the first such activity in the neighborhood in six years.
Over the weekend, neighborhood talk focused on one of those two lots for a different reason. A makeshift cross had gone up in the swale by the side of the lot near 107 Point Pleasant Drive.
The cross bore a name in orange paint: Josh Schmidt Roberson.
It was already filling up with personal messages in small print: “Miss you Josh, see you soon.” “RIP bro I love you man.” “Hey boss I’m gona miss your smart ass see you soon Bud, Ride On.”
Joshua Schmidt Roberson, who was 23, killed himself at dawn Friday, during a brief standoff with police, after calling 911 five times and on several of those occasions just hanging up. After the first few calls a deputy was dispatched to a location on Postwood Drive, off of Point Pleasant, where the cell number that was calling 911 was “geolocated,” according to a police report. By then Schmidt had made contact with a dispatcher, but all the dispatcher could relay to the deputy heading to the location was that a man had called, the man was crying, and he could not verify his location.
Schmidt is a resident of 64 Perthshire Lane, almost four miles away.
The deputy was dispatched at 5:28 a.m. He located Schmidt at the construction lot on Point Pleasant, by which time several other deputies had also arrived. Schmidt had identified himself to deputy Christopher Santoianni. Schmidt held a gun in his right hand.
“Deputy Santoianni began giving loud verbal commands to drop the gun at which time I moved to cover behind my vehicle and advised Flagler County dispatch of the update,” the deputy’s report reads. “Joshua placed the barrel of the silver/black finished gun to his right temple,” the report states. Schmidt told deputies: “I don’t want to hurt anyone but myself.”
Schmidt was sitting down. He was crying. He said he wanted to die. It was dark, but one deputy shined his spotlight on him, and told another deputy to do so as well, bright enough that one deputy noted the color of Schmidt’s yellow t-shirt. Meanwhile other deputies blocked off road access to the area. And the crisis negotiations team was called in, as were Flagler County Fire Rescue ambulance units and the Palm Coast Fire Department.
“Both Deputy Santoianni and I began to have a conversation with Joshua,” the report continues, “who stated that he couldn’t take the pain any longer and wanted us to tell his mother he loved her. As we continued the conversation with Joshua he became increasingly agitated and continually looked over his shoulder as if he was expecting someone behind him. Joshua continually tapped the barrel of the gun on his right temple and at one point placed his mouth around the barrel of the gun. I advised Joshua that we would be able to get him the help he needed and that we can get someone to talk with him, to which he stated he no longer wished to get help and wanted to be left alone.”
Cpl. Eric Allen was also at the scene, as were other deputies. Some neighbors had noticed the commotion but were ordered back into their home.
“I asked Corporal Allen to take over engaging Joshua,” the report continues, “at which point he advised that he was having trouble at home and with his girlfriend.” To Cpl. Allen, Joshua spoke harshly about his father and said his mother was living in Connecticut. “Joshua became increasing agitated and continually stated that he did not want to feel this pain he was feeling. While Cpl. Allen was speaking with Joshua, Joshua asked Cpl. Allen to make a promise that he would tell his girlfriend and family that he loved her. At which point Joshua placed the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.”
It’s not clear exactly how long the standoff lasted, but it wasn’t long: another deputy described the shooting taking place after “a short period of dialogue.” The crisis negotiating team had not arrived. Schmidt fell back, and the gun fell to the left of him.
Deputies moved in and removed the firearm, a semi-automatic Kahr Arms. A paramedic pronounced Joshua Schmidt dead at 6:06 a.m. The area was cordoned off with crime tape. Several school buses that usually drive by that way, with a bus stop only a few steps from the lot, were diverted that morning.
There were no work crews all day Monday at the lot under construction.
A look at Schmidt’s Facebook page suggests he favored speedy cars, monster trucks, mud bogging and fishing.