Joshua R. Siedel, the 27-year-old Bunnell resident who took Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies and Bunnell Police Department officers on a brief chase down U.S. 1 then was at the center of a two-hour standoff, threatening suicide, surrendered peacefully but faces numerous charges from that encounter and four additional felony warrants that had caused his Buick’s license plate to trigger a fugitive warning in midafternoon Wednesday.
He faces charges of making written threats to kill, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and dealing in stolen property, as well as fleeing and eluding police, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and other charges. He was despondent over a lost girlfriend and told deputies to shoot him, or he’d do it himself. It was the third standoff with a suicidal man in two weeks for sheriff’s deputies, all three negotiated down peacefully.
Deputies would later find a plastic replica gun on the car’s floorboard.
Deputies tried to stop Siedel at U.S. 1 and East Woodland Street. Siedel wouldn’t stop. A deputy deployed stop sticks at West Court Street. Siedel maneuvered around them. A dashcam video shows several Flagler County Sheriff’s patrol cars, lights flashing and sirens blaring, chasing–or rather following–Siedel, who was not speeding much of the time, and in fact slowed down to 40 mph past the roundabout at Old Dixie Highway–not far from the hotel where he’d spent the night. He continued to lead the platoon of patrol cars down U.S. 1, gradually slowing down further as he reached the Hess station. He then stopped.
The video the Sheriff’s Office circulated this afternoon then jumps 70 minutes ahead to when a negotiator is speaking with Siedel: “I’m not charging you, I’m a negotiator here, trying to talk to ya. I wasn’t the first one to pull you over, I’m like, the ninth car back. I’m simply tasked with trying to talk to you and trying to get this to a peaceful resolution. I haven’t had time to talk to anybody about what any potential charges are, because I’m trying to keep you and everybody else here safe.”
Siedel and the negotiator talk about the car: Siedel is worried about what will happen to the car. The negotiator promises it won’t be impounded if he can get a friend to pick it up. By then Siedel’s car has been imprisoned between two Sheriff’s armored vehicles. The SWAT Team is at the scene. Some 20 minutes later, the video jumps to a view of Siedel outside his car by the driver’s side, by himself, his arms in the air. “Josh, listen to me, you’ve got to obey every instruction,” the negotiator tells him, giving him directions to show the collar of his shirt, turn and leave his hands up. Deputies have their weapons trained on him, including what appeared to be a taser and another non-lethal weapon.
Siedel, who’s holding his phone in both his hands above his head, is ordered to walk backwards slowly toward them. Siedel stops and says something. He is clearly scared. He’s chewing on something. “As long as you obey every instruction I give you, I am going to put you in handcuffs, nobody is going to hurt you, but you have to listen to me,” the negotiator tells him. Siedel starts walking back again, stopping every few steps to talk with the negotiator, or just to stop. He asks again not to be hurt. The negotiator again promisses him he won’t be, as long as he keeps following instructions. When he is within a few feet of the deputies, he gets down on the ground.
And then a millennial issue. Siedel, well aware by then that U.S. 1 had been shut down in both directions for passers-by’s safety, that the county’s emergency helicopter had to be sent aloft, that rescue units were standing by, that a large number of units and armored vehicles had been mobilized and a platoon of deputies surrounded him, arms drawn, had the following exchange with the negotiator: “You can drop the phone from there right down in front of you, that way I can take your hands.”
“Can one of you guys take it? I don’t want to break my phone, man,” Siedel protests. “Come on.”
“It’s not gonna break, OK?” the negotiator tells him. “That’s why I got you on the soft ground.”
“I’ve been straight up with you guys,” Siedel says.
“That’s why I’ve got you on the soft ground,” the negotiator says again.
“Can I at least put it down? I’ll leave this hand in the air,” Siedel says.
The negotiator gives some ground, allowing him to put the phone down slowly. He then tells him: “I am the only one putting hands on you, OK?”
“I understand,” Siedel says. “I’m not trying–I know you guys just got a job, man.” He says something about losing his girlfriend. The negotiator tells him not to resist him, and within moments the cuffs are on and the situation is resolved.
Deputies had also managed to get in contact with his ex-girlfriend, with whom Siedel wanted to speak. It’s not clear whether he did, or what the nature of those conversations were.
“This was a dangerous situation and our team immediately put their de-escalation skills to work to talk this guy out of his car and keeping the community safe,” Sheriff Staly said. “Im very proud of our SWAT team, our Emergency Response team, our Crisis Negotiating team, patrol deputies and our partners
with the Bunnell Police Department for doing a phenomenal job talking this felon into surrendering before anyone could get hurt.”