A 76-year-old woman allegedly shot and killed her terminally ill husband at a Daytona Beach, Florida, hospital following a pact police said the couple made several weeks ago.
Officers were called to AdventHealth Daytona Beach on Saturday for a report of a person shot, the police department said in a news release.
When police arrived, Ellen Gilland was barricaded in her husband, Jerry Gilland’s, 11th-floor room. Law enforcement used a device to distract the woman “to get her to put that gun down long enough for us to hit her with less lethal,” Daytona Police Chief Jakari Young said at a news conference. She was taken into custody and faces a charge of first-degree murder.
The woman told authorities that because of her husband’s health issues, they had a conversation about three weeks ago and decided that if he “continued to take a turn for the worse that he wanted her to end this,” Young said.
“Initially, I think the plan was a murder-suicide so she killed him and then she was going to turn the gun on herself but decided she couldn’t go through with it,” he told reporters.
Young said the husband knew the shooting would occur today. It’s not clear how long he had been hospitalized.
Staff and patients in surrounding rooms were evacuated during the standoff. Young said the 11th floor is for terminally ill patients, and praised officers for getting people out safely.
“This was somewhat of a logistical nightmare, which is why again I’m very, very proud of my team,” he said. “Pretty much all the patients on that floor are on ventilators so they didn’t have the room to evacuate that entire floor, so they evacuated the rooms where it was most important to get them out of the way.”
The facility is part of Altamonte Springs, Florida-based AdventHealth’s nine-state system focused on medical care.
“We are devastated by the tragedy that unfolded at the AdventHealth Daytona Beach campus today, and our prayers are with those impacted,” the nonprofit healthcare system said in a statement.
It expressed gratitude for police who it credited with helping to keep patients, employees, and visitors safe Saturday.
Police said earlier that no one else was injured.
Young called the incident “tragic” and urged anyone struggling to seek help.
“It just shows that none of us are immune from the trials and tribulations of life,” the chief said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
Courtney Brogle and Alex Lo contributed.