Following notification of a shooting at AdventHealth hospital in Daytona Beach on Saturday, a full contingent of police officers and SWAT team members arrived there.
A 76-year-old woman is accused of shooting and killing her terminally sick husband to take her own life. She avoided self-immolation, and nobody else was wounded, probably partly due to the police sergeant’s lengthy conversations with Ellen Gilland.
Sgt. Bob Ransom has been a police officer in Daytona Beach for 32 years. He spent 28 years on the negotiation team before leaving a few months ago.
He was nearby the hospital on Saturday when the call came in, and thanks to his many years of experience, he was the ideal candidate for the position.
“The immediate concern is to get everybody, including the people involved, to slow down,” Ransom said.
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Ransom spent three and a half hours on the 11th level of Advent Health negotiating with a distressed woman. Time is one of a negotiator’s most valuable resources.
“Our priority is the preservation of life, and that was the whole goal, is try to help her see that there are options for her,” Ransom said.
Throughout their entire chat, Gilland held the rifle and aimed it at the door where Ransom and the others were standing. Empathy is an essential quality for any negotiator, though.
“I can understand where she’s coming from and the desire to help a loved one that you’ve been so close with so long, and the stories she shared expressed a lot of love,” Ransom said. “It was a very difficult conversation to have.”
Ransom believes that, in this particular case, his 52 years of age may have helped to bridge a gap. He claims that once the suspect noticed him, she appeared more willing to talk to him.
“She knew where I was standing. She saw the edge of my face and said, ‘oh, you have gray hair,’ and I responded. I said, ‘yes, ma’am. I think I’m a lot older than you think I am,’” Ransom said.
Police finally entered the room and disarmed the man using a distraction device after considering other patients and employees. But after spending hours talking, Ransom feels he managed to connect with her and motivate her to continue.
“I’d like to think that we had a positive accomplishment and resolution,” Ransom said. “My goal was the safety of everyone involved, including her, and at the end of the day, all of us walked out of there uninjured.”
For almost 4 years, Jason Martin has been a freelance writer for newspapers, journals, blogs, books, and online material. He covers the most recent news as well as many other topics.