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Carjacker leads deputies on chase, hits one during intense shootout in body cam video

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Howard Cohen
Miami Herald

An armed carjacker who earlier had made threats of “suicide by cop” apparently made good on his intentions. He led a terrifying police chase amid startled motorists near Interstate 4 that ended with a shootout with five Florida officers.

When it ended Thursday in the DeLand area of Florida — about 34 miles north of Orlando — the suspect was dead and a Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputy was grazed in the head with one of his bullets.

Volusia deputies identified Phillip Thomas Marsh as the Lake Helen, Florida, man who led to the intense afternoon chase and shootout. On Friday, the Volusia sheriff’s office posted a video of seven-minutes’ worth of body cam footage that had been viewed more than half a million times by Saturday morning.

Deputies say that Marsh. 30, carjacked a woman at gunpoint in Deltona shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday. The woman told officers he got into her white pickup truck, pointed his gun, demanded her keys and took off.

Marsh was so determined, Volusia deputies say, he swerved at a deputy who threw stop sticks on the road to blow out the tires.

“The suspect appeared to be waving a handgun out the driver’s side window,” deputies said.

Marsh kept driving for miles after the truck’s four tires were blown out by stop sticks.

The shirtless Marsh got out of the disabled vehicle on State Road 44 in front of the Volusia County Fairgrounds, with his handgun pointed to his head, ran toward motorists, approached a driver in a black SUV, and “appeared to be ready to carjack another innocent person,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said at a press conference on Thursday.

Marsh was blocked from doing so by a deputy.

When Marsh opened fire on the deputies, they fired back, striking hm several times.

It still wasn’t enough to take Marsh down.

“Still armed with the handgun, the suspect went into the woods, where deputies ultimately took him into custody, brought him out and performed first aid before he was transported to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead,” Volusia deputies said in their report.

Chitwood said Marsh had been reported missing and suicidal earlier in the week. “He was known to act violently toward law enforcement and has made threats of ‘suicide by cop’ and suicide by other means.”

Marsh’s bullet grazed the head of Sgt. Thomas Dane, 54, a 30-year-veteran. As blood gushed from his head, and his hat with the “Sheriff’s K-9 Unit” logo lay on the ground next to him with a bullet hole a few inches above the logo, he told fellow officers, “I think I’ve been shot,” Chitwood said at the press conference.

Dane was treated at a Daytona Beach hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.

Chitwood commended his fellow deputies.

“Everything that they did was to try to prevent what happened — knowing that this was probably what was going to happen,” Chitwood said.

Marsh had a lengthy arrest record dating back to 2007, when he was 19, in Volusia County. He’s had arrests for offenses including home invasion with a deadly weapon, grand theft, dealing in stolen property, aggravated battery, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

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