DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The plan had been in the making for weeks: Ellen Gilland, 76, was going to shoot and then kill her terminally ill, 77-year-old husband, Jerry. But after shooting him in the head in an 11th floor hospital room, she couldn’t keep up with the rest.
Instead, Gilland, still armed, engaged in a four-hour standoff with police until officers were able to use a non-lethal explosive device to distract her and take her into custody.
That’s according to the police report of the shooting and its aftermath Saturday on a floor for terminally ill patients at AdventHealth Daytona Beach near Florida’s central coast.
The couple came up with the plan three weeks ago, Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said at a news conference this weekend. In conversation, he said, they decided that if Jerry Gilland’s unnamed illness got worse, “he wanted her to end this.”
“Apparently he was meant to do it, but he didn’t have the strength, so she had to do it,” Young said.
So they turned to “a murder-suicide where she would kill herself,” the police chief said. “But she decided she couldn’t go through with it.”
After hearing a gunshot from room 1106, two hospital workers entered to find Ellen Gilland sitting next to the bed with her husband unconscious in a pool of blood. She pointed the gun at the couple and told them to leave the room, which, according to a police report, smelled of burnt gunpowder. Another employee also entered and was told to leave at gunpoint.
Employees then began evacuating people from nearby rooms, the report said. The police chief called it “a logistical nightmare” as most of the patients on the 11th floor were on a ventilator.
After officers arrived, they lined up in the hallway with guns drawn toward the open door of room 1106. The police yelled repeatedly, “Drop the gun!” according to video from an officer’s body camera recorded about 10 minutes after the shooting.
“Tell me what’s going on. We don’t want to hurt you,” one agent shouted. Another told a colleague, “Back up. Back up. We have time. We have nothing but time .”
After about four hours, SWAT team members used a non-lethal explosive device to distract Ellen Gilland and entered the room. They tried to use a stun gun, but it failed to subdue her and she fired a shot into the ceiling. Then she dropped the weapon and was apprehended, the police report said.
Gilland was charged Monday with first-degree murder and two counts of aggressive assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and remained jailed without bail. Her court-appointed public defender did not respond to an email request for comment.
Neighbors of the Gillands also did not respond to calls on Tuesday.
“It’s a tragic circumstance,” said the police chief, “because it just goes to show that none of us are immune to the trials of life.”
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