Gary Hills, a 68-year-old resident of 71 Sandy Beach Walk in north Flagler County, who Sheriff Rick Staly said had allegedly “held his wife hostage overnight” after beating her, holding a gun to her head and threatening to kill her, the dog and himself, shot himself in the mouth just as deputies were knocking at his door Wednesday morning. He survived, but he faces assault and battery charges.
“When we knocked on the door he got up, put the gun to his mouth and pulled the trigger,” Staly said. Hills’s wife had told deputies that she had collected all the weapons in the house, so deputies were under the impression that Hills was unarmed when they went to his door. “We think that had she come home he was waiting for her. Fortunately our deputies were the ones that knocked on the door. I’m glad he didn’t try to do a suicide by cop or shoot one of my deputies.”
The woman, who is 66, spoke with a sheriff’s deputy at Bing’s Landing Wednesday morning, before deputies went to the house. She told deputies an argument developed between her and Hills the night before, after she’d found messages on her husband’s phone “that involved him speaking with another woman about going out for drinks,” according to a sheriff’s incident report. Hills then confronted the woman, wanting to know where his phone was. She denied taking the phone. They argued. He became upset with her “and punched her in the face and grabbed her by the neck and threw her to the ground.” He then allegedly grabbed a firearm, placed it to her head and made the threats on her life, his and the dog’s.
The woman said she did not immediately call 911 for being in fear for her life. She subsequently drove to Bing’s Landing to meet deputies there. Sandy Beach Way is part of a small subdivision at the northern end of Flagler on the barrier island, in the Beach Haven neighborhood. One of the firearms she had in her possession, a Ruger SR9 9mm, was the one she said Hills had held against her head. She had “a very a noticeable bruised left eye that was very swollen as well as marks on her neck,” the report states.
Deputies then responded to the Sandy Beach Way house to make contact with Hills. Two deputies could see him through the glass at the front door. One deputy saw him raise “a smaller black in [color] firearm into his mouth and pull the trigger, firing one round into his upper mouth area,” the report states. They forced entry due to the obvious, exigent circumstances and began life-saving measures, including CPR, until paramedics arrived. He was then airlifted to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach.
Charges against him are on standby pending his recovery. “Depending on his injuries he can clearly be criminally charged for the assault that he did on his wife,” Staly said in an interview. “I don’t think we’d make a physical arrest. We’d file an information on the state.” Staly said he would not, through a physical arrest, want to burden taxpayers with the cost of Hills’s medical care. “I’m just glad he didn’t kill her or he did not hurt or kill one of my deputies.”
On WNZF’s daily update on the coronavirus emergency, Staly this morning said domestic violence calls have “increased pretty dramatically in the last few weeks. Fortunately we’re getting calls before they turn violent in most cases, so our domestic violence cases are actually down, but the disturbances are increasing.” He continued: “This is going to be a prolonged event, not like a hurricane you can watch coming, prepare and see it go by and then clean up. This is the invisible, silent enemy, you don’t know where it is, and so this is weighing on our community. There’s fear in the community, there’s concern in the community, people are wondering how they’re going to pay their bills, and my deputies recognize all that, too.”
April happens to be Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month.
Trauma bonded says
How do you survive shooting a gun up into your mouth? I hope this women and women like her get support from the community so they can leave someone who is abusing them. We need to open up another shelter where women can go for their safety. Abusers will always escalate their violence for their own twisted reasons. A pandemic, joblessness, etc is no excuse. Abuse is never the answer under any circumstances. There is never an excuse for it. Do not tolerate it. Get
out before it’s too late.
The Truth says
There is a shelter for women who are abused. The Family Life Center has one in Bunnell.
We need shelter for men who are driving insane by their insane freaking wives and girlfriends.
He needs to be charged and prosecuted for Domestic Violence and Assault with intent to kill. He held a gun to his wife’s head. He needs to be taken off the streets. I don’t trust the wife to follow through with any charges she might (or might not) consider filing against him. The man is threat and has clearly shown a propensity for physical violence. Add alcohol to the mix and he is a literal loose cannon.
John R Brady says
If he is arrested Flagler County is responsible for the cost of his care. If he recovers he can then be arrested.
This man was not the monster he is being portrayed!
Absolutely he was not a monster.
All violence deserves an arrest says
I agree. He needs to be charged. Taxpayers want a safe community and paying for this is essential if we are going to stop ANY type of violence. Had the alleged committed robbery or assault on someone other than his wife, partner or family, would charges had been delayed to save taxpayer dollars? The sheriff’s generous offer to spare taxpayer expense does nothing to protect this woman and her family. Abusers know this routine and will repeat. We are in this together whether you people like it or not – these are your neighbors! I don’t care how nice of a neighborhood you live in. As a child I watched my father do this time after time and for the sake of keeping the peace in our fancy little cul de sac, no charges unless my mom wanted them. What do YOU think a desperate person is going to do to keep the only stability she or possibly her children have known in tact? The known terror always appears better than the unknown lurking outside the door ie family separation, homelessness, etc. We are in this together and shame on you Sheriff Staley for not pressing charges immediately. No amount of money is worth any abuser having a second chance. If you don’t think so, get ready to turn your heads while families in turmoil suffer needlessly because in times like these it only gets worse.
Trailer Bob says
It seems that the man is in serious condition, so he wouldn’t likely be put in jail anyway. I think it is smart that Staley is concerned about our money in this case. The guy may even die…we will see.
BUT, never an excuse to beat someone, anyone, who is not a threat to you. Sick man.
He is not a monster
He did monstrous things. There are consequences to be faced for that. The protection of the community is at issue here. That is not something to be thrown away at the discretion of those who have a personal connection this man.
Glad we all stocked up on guns here in Florida so we can be so very much “safer”. Domestic violence and guns are a horrible mix.
Trailer Bob says
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ANY WEAPON IS A HORRIBLE MIX. THE GUN IS JUST THE TOOL IN THIS CASE. GUNS CANNOT PULL THEIR OWN TRIGGER.
Lance Carroll says
We all need to keep in mind the pressures that we all face together. More than ever, we need civility and moral support. Awareness, social order and tolerance, among other positive approach, will carry us further into the realm of solutions to the problems that seem inescapable. Health and strength to all of us. Sincerely, Lance Carroll
Charles "Bub" Robson says
Had a man shoot himself in the mouth trying to kill him self in his shower in Flagler Beach Upon arrival at the scene the shower was full of blood, the man sitting in the shower spit the bullet out, stood up and was baker acted.
I lived in that beautiful neighborhood up until last year. I heard he passed away.
Horrible tragedy. Feel terrible for the wife and family and that is NOT the way you wanna go out.
Very tragic for this lady…too many guns in the wrong hands.
Obviously, the Sheriff can’t reveal the man’s true condition. That is protected information; however, if he is arrested NOW, the Sheriff in essence owns him. This means the taxpayers are now saddled with his medical bills. Self inflicted gunshot wounds can run into the hundreds of thousands to treat. I have a feeling based upon the wording of this story that this man is hanging by a thread, and he may not survive. No reason to “slap the cuffs on him”. He’s not going anywhere soon.
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