Friday morning, a Palm Coast woman, S.G., was shot somewhere between the Microtel in Palm Coast and Graham Swamp. Her boyfriend, Brenan Robert Hill, 32, was frantic as he spoke to a deputy, claiming someone had pointed a gun at him and his girlfriend when they were in his white 2010 Honda Civic, he supposedly swatted the gun away, it went off, and the bullet hit S.G. in the back of the head.
She has been stable but in critical condition since, at a regional trauma hospital.
Hill had driven her to AdventHealth Palm Coast, where medical personnel removed Gonzales from the car and immediately began tending to her wound. Hill followed the team in, then later walked out and spoke with Cpl. Daniel Parthemore (who secured the car as a crime scene), according to a sheriff’s report. He told the corporal that he’d been leaving the Microtel, looking for a different place to stay. Hill has connections to Pennsylvania, where there’s a warrant out for him. As he was leaving, the shooting occurred, he claimed, alleging an encounter with an unnamed individual that had gone awry.
After he was at AdventHealth, deputies took Hill to the sheriff’s offices at the Flagler County courthouse, where he was further interviewed (and where his felony warrant from Pennsylvania was uncovered).
Deputies looked at Microtel’s surveillance video. It showed Hill leaving the hotel with his belongings, placing them in the Honda. He had a red backpack. It did not show the incident. Deputies had difficulties determining exactly where the shooting had taken place. Circuit Judge Terence Perkins signed a search warrant for the car after John’s Towing took it to the sheriff’s evidence bay, where detective Annie Conrad and Crime Scene Investigator Laura McKinlay went to work. They found a number of items typically used with drugs along with pot and other controlled substances.
His arrest report indicates that members of the sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit had been preparing to carry out an undercover buy from Hill in an ongoing investigation. That obviously did not take place. But the alleged discovery of the illegal items in his car resulted in his arrest and incarceration at the Flagler County jail on those charges. He was booked at 5:10 p.m. Friday. The shooting had occurred before 10 a.m.
When Sheriff Rick Staly spoke of the incident Friday afternoon, which had drawn significant media, social media and public attention, he stopped just short of saying that there was no danger to the community. But when he spoke again later that evening, he was more categorical that there was no danger. But he said there was still a lot of work to do and was releasing little information, other than he was confident the case would likely be resolved swiftly, as has been common with most of the agency’s higher-profile cases in the last few years.
Later that night, through various investigative means, deputies found the gun they believe is tied to the shooting, ditched in the woods. The sheriff’s office is not confirming that the gun was found, only that evidence has been collected and sent to a lab for analysis. Nor is the sheriff’s office officially calling Hill a suspect in the shooting. But deputies were intent on ensuring that he does not walk away–and found a way to keep him at the jail.
In February, when he was living at a house on Flemingwood Lane in Palm Coast, Hill was arrested on a cocaine possession. The traffic stop, initiated by a missing tag (it was later seen inside the car against the back windshield), took place at the Microtel. The car smelled of pot, but he had a Pennsylvania-issued medical marijuana car. A search of the car, to which he’d consented, revealed various drug implements and hashish oil, along with cocaine. He was arrested and booked at the jail. He was released on $4,,500 bond.
When he was rearrested Friday, the new drug charges alone could not have kept him in jail. But the violation of his pre-trial release order from February now mean that he could be kept in jail without bond, as could his felony warrant from Pennsylvania. That was key, enabling detectives to continue their investigation in the shooting. The Pennsylvania warrant is for aggravated assault and retail theft, and a bond revocation over a failure to appear in court.
The alleged victim in Pennsylvania was Hill’s girlfriend at the time, a nurse who told police as she called 911 that she’d fled her home in Richland Township after Hill had allegedly assaulted her by headbutting her, fracturing a bone and causing her to bleed, according to the warrant (the couple have a daughter in common). Hill has waived his extradition rights, granting permission to be returned to Pennsylvania.
Authorities in Flagler are not about to release him, however. The investigation is ongoing, and additional charges pending.
The murkiness of the circumstances recalls some of the elements of the shooting by Jonathan Canales of his then-girlfriend and mother of a child in common, at their home in Daytona North in 2014. It was hours before Canales called 911, claiming the victim had shot herself in the back of the head. He was eventually tried on an attempted first-degree murder charge, found guilty by a jury in 2018 and sentenced to life in prison. The victim has since recovered.