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Teen Fatally Shot By Law Enforcement Wielded A Fake Gun, Police Say

Gainesville Police officers monitor the outside of Majestic Oaks Apartments at about 3:40 a.m. Monday.
Gainesville Police officers monitor the outside of Majestic Oaks Apartments at about 3:40 a.m. Monday.

Updated, March 21, 2016 at 4:35 p.m.: Melvin Hewitt, a Majestic Oaks resident, said he heard both the commands and the shots on Sunday night.

"It was like as if you were watching a war movie," he said. "And they just ran into something that they didn't expect."

Five ACSO deputies and four GPD officers fired their guns during their exchange, ACSO spokesman Lt. Brandon Kutner said.

Kutner said it's normal in a situation with an armed suspect to send multiple officers.

"We do a lot of heroic things, but none of us wear a cape and can act like Superman," he said. "We have to take the precautions we need to do our job safely."

Flip Hudson, who lives at Majestic Oaks, said the officers may have been too hasty in firing their weapons.

"I felt like they should have let the sister holla at him," said Hudson, who said he saw Dentmond's sister trying to talk to him from the complex's J building. "She could have got him to put the gun down."

While the gun was later identified as a "realistic replica," Kutner said he didn't know anything else about what kind of fake gun Dentmond had. Control of the investigation has been transferred to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which will not release information about an ongoing case, including a recording of Dentmond's 911 call that led to law enforcement's response.

Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy said the city is planning a town hall meeting Tuesday to discuss concerns about the incident, tentatively scheduled for 6:30 p.m. near the apartment complex.

"We always strive to do better," he said. "Based on what we know now, the limited information we have, it's one of those things we're not quite sure that a tragedy of some kind could've been avoided."

Braddy urged the community to remain calm as the investigation continues.

Both ACSO and GPD will conduct internal investigations, and the officers involved have been put on temporary administrative duty.

SW Advocacy Group and the Alachua County Crisis Center will have staff at the Majestic Oaks clubhouse from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday for residents who want to discuss the shooting.

Updated, March 21, 2016 at 3:08 p.m.: The Alachua County Sheriff's Office announced Monday afternoon that the gun Robert Dentmond appeared to be holding was "a realistic replica," not an actual weapon as authorities originally believed.

Here is the joint update from the sheriff's office and the Gainesville Police Department:

As part of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident, the firearm Mr. Dentmond was holding at the time he was encountered by law enforcement officers was recovered. That weapon is now confirmed to be a realistic replica of a semi-automatic rifle. The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office also confirms that five (5) Deputies fired their weapons during the course of this incident. Three (3) of the Deputies on scene are Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) certified, having undergone 40-hours of training in identifying individuals suffering from mental illnesses, individuals in crisis, and de-escalation techniques. In addition, members of our Negotiations Response Team (NRT) had been contacted and were responding to the location to take over responsibility for communicating with Mr. Dentmond prior to his actions which forced Deputies and Officers on scene to employ a lethal response. The Gainesville Police Department confirms that four (4) Officers fired their weapons during this incident. One (1) of those involved officers is Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) certified.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will continue to investigate the shooting.

Our original headline on this story has been changed to reflect this update.

The sheriff's office also wrote Dentmond was intent on killing himself or forcing law enforcement to kill him, if necessary.

"Mr. Dentmond also communicated his intent to end his life via text messages prior to making the phone call to ACSO," Lt. Brandon Kutner and GPD officer Ben Tobias wrote. "These text messages were not available to ACSO or GPD personnel prior to their response to the Majestic Oaks Apartment Complex and were discovered through the course of the subsequent investigation."

Original story, March 21, 2016 at 9:31 a.m.:

A 10th-grade student died after authorities shot and killed him during a standoff in a Gainesville apartment complex Sunday night.

During a press conference at 2:45 a.m. Monday, Alachua County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt.

Brandon Kutner said 16-year-old Robert Dentmond attended F.W. Buchholz High School. 

He is now listed as a Gainesville High School student, Gainesville Police Department spokesman Officer Ben Tobias later wrote in an email.

At about 10 p.m. Sunday, Dentmond called authorities and said he was armed with an M16 rifle at Majestic Oaks Apartments, adding that he wanted to shoot himself, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Brandon Kutner said.

“It would seem he was intent on harming himself,” Kutner said.

He said ACSO and Gainesville Police officers responded to the complex, located at 5800 SW 20th Ave., where Dentmond was found holding what appeared to be an AR-15 rifle.

Dentmond lived with his sister in the complex, Kutner said.

At first, he said, authorities convinced Dentmond to drop the gun. Officers and deputies with Crisis Intervention Training tried to negotiate with Dentmond, but he eventually picked the rifle back up.

“Basically, what we’re trying to do is to bring the individual out of crisis,” Kutner said.

Authorities sent a reverse 911 call to residents, urging them to stay inside during the standoff, which lasted about 20 minutes, he said.

As Dentmon walked toward buildings located at the center of the complex, authorities gave him several final warnings, Tobias said.

“Deputies and officers made it extremely clear to him that if he continued toward that occupied building, that he would be shot,” he said.   

Distance made the use of a Taser impossible, Tobias said, and they eventually shot Dentmond after he ignored commands.

Alachua County Fire Rescue transported Dentmond to UF Health Shands Hospital where he was later pronounced dead, according to a press release.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators worked among more than 20 ACSO and GPD cars visible from outside the complex Monday at 3:30 a.m.

Authorities involved in the shooting will undergo temporary administrative duties within their respective departments until the investigation is complete, according to the release.

After FDLE completes its investigation, local agencies will conduct their own internal investigations, Kutner said.

“Any time force is used, it is an extremely tragic situation for the family of the person who was killed, and for the officers,” Tobias said.  

In an unverified video posted to Facebook at about 10:30 p.m., authorities order a male to walk forward and leave a nearby gun on the ground.

About two and a half minutes into the six-minute video, a man says “Do not pick up the gun - you will get shot.”  

The male picks up what appears to be a rifle about two minutes later and begins to slowly back up.

Someone soon yells "One more step and we’re going to shoot you,” and a barrage of gunshots is heard less than 15 seconds later, causing the male to collapse.

Ali Schmitz contributed reporting.

Giuseppe is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing
Hayley is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing