Gunfire exchange leaves Ponte Vedra Beach man dead

Neighbors say 59 year-old Daryl L. Atkins had been drinking last night — to the point that he passed out and fell to the ground in front of his Ponte Vedra Beach condominium; the place, where within hours, he would lose his life.

E-911 operators received a call reporting Atkins’ condition; that he was heard to have made hopeless comments about his life and that a loaded pistol had been taken from his pocket.

Three deputy sheriffs responded to the 8:30 p.m. call; Deputy David Rosado, Corporal Paul Clark, and Sergeant David Tarbert — this morning, all three are on administrative leave in accordance with standard agency policy.

According to Sheriff’s Community Affairs Corporal Catherine Payne, who is back at the crime scene this morning, as the deputies approached the residence, a white male inside began firing toward them. The deputies returned fire — it is now believed they may have mortally wounded Atkins, although, until the autopsy results are received, authorities have not ruled out the possibility that, in his desperate state, Atkins may have taken his own life.

Fearing for the safety of neighboring residents, and not knowing Atkins’ condition, deputies began evacuation of adjoining condominiums and called in the Crisis Negotiations Team and Special Weapons and Tactics team.

When attempts to make verbal contact with Atkins failed, a remote controlled, camera-equipped robot was deployed into the residence.

Operators observed that Atkins was dead and appeared to be alone. No other law enforcement or civilian injuries have been reported at this time.

The cause of Atkins’ death will be determined by District 23 Medical Examiner, Dr. Predag Bulic; following completion of his post-mortem investigation.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting an investigation into the event; in conjunction with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

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