Volusia County: Where Violent Offenders Vacation!

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The misleadingly-named XBox murder case is heading in an even more bizarre and tragic direction than I imagined. Several government officials have already been fired over their handling of the violent repeat offender at the center of the case, but transcripts of 911 calls made by victim Erin Belanger suggest Volusia County may also need a new sheriff.

The presence of a violent, screaming group of people at Belanger's home several days before the murders was evidently not a big deal. Deputies were dispatched to "discuss" options with Belanger, but no arrests were made. A sheriff's spokesman has suggested there was little more to be done as Belanger did not give them any names of the people threatening her and banging on her door.

The news stories on the case do not make clear if the officers ever went out looking for anyone in connection with the multiple calls made by Belanger, or if they merely rolled up to the residence and considered the matter closed. Nor is it clear if a stolen property report was ever taken from Belanger regarding the electronics that went missing from her grandmother's home.

Reading between the lines of what transpired, a regrettable leap, it seems as if the Volusia sheriff's office regarded Belanger's complaints as some sort of low-intensity domestic squabble between former roommates. It also seems that minor property crime is not a law enforcement focus in Volusia, and is perhaps even tolerated as long as a firearm is not involved. And it is a safe bet that had ex-con Troy Victorino gone onto government property and threatened a county official, officers would not have insisted on a name before trying to find him.

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  1. The obvious question– have they recovered the clothes and such and checked them for drugs?

  2. Damn, that’s just about the best troll I’ve ever seen. Like a great pitcher, throwing a perfectly located change up.

    Bravo, Mia.

  3. So what if they had done the right thing and got the guy before the murder, wouldn’t that have just made him the libertarian cause de jour? Afterall, what right do the police have to arrest someone just because there are accused of being violent and loud and some women with a grudge against the poor accused made a sensational accusation? I agree that the police dropped the ball, apparently fatally. That said, I am sorry, but this magazine complaining about the police not acting quickly enough to arrest someone doesn’t even pass the giggle test. Who does Jeff Taylor think he is kidding?

  4. I’m glad authorities included this information in their comments on the event. “Deputies were unaware that the seven phone calls would be followed by the mass murders, according to the report.”

    I guess that means if they were aware mass murders were in the offing, they would have reacted differently. Good to know.

  5. ex-con Troy Victorino gone onto government property and threatened a county official, officers would not have insisted on a name before trying to find him.

    Well duh…

    It sounds to me like there was some class prejudice involved in the case. Sometimes the cops don’t want to get involved in some sketchy dispute involving people in odd living arangements…

  6. “. . . . sketchy dispute involving people in odd living arangements . . .”

    Please. This woman calls the police when she finds squatters in her grandmother’s home. She gets them out of the house, but they didn’t take all of their belongings out. She asks the police, “what do I do with this stuff?” and is told “whatever you want.” So she boxes the stuff up and leaves the boxes in the house.

    A week or so later, with at least 2 intervening terrified calls to the police because these squatters are now banging on her front door, invading her home, invading her bedroom, and threatening her — and the police didn’t do anything because she didn’t tell them that the people threatening her included someone on probation?

  7. And if the incident had not led to a mass murder, are you sure the police would have been wrong to regard it as a domestic dispute between former roommates? This was an awful tragedy, and we all want to believe it was preventable if someone was doing their job. But I don’t believe it. Local police departments respond to hundreds of domestic disputes, confrontations between groups of rival teenagers, barroom arguments, dispute between acquaintances over property (“The stereo is mine! No, I paid for it! She threw my clothes out the window!”), landlord tenant disputes and other disturbances. It would be nice to believe there is some way to distinguish between the 100’s of times everyone settles down and sobers up in an hour or two and the one time when one of the parties comes back with a gun or a baseball bat and commits mayhem. But I, for one, dont believe it.

  8. I believe Will was speculating on the cops’ mindset, Jen.

  9. RPL:

    This wasn’t a dispute between former roomates. This was squaters who had no relation to the party responsible for the call.

    My folks have a house in the North Carolina mountains. If I found a bunch of rednecks living in it, I’d call the cops to come kick them out. If they came to my house and threatened me once, I’d call the cops, but think it was a one-off. If it happened again, and the cops didn’t care, I’d go ape-shit. And I’d probably get a shotgun and keep it loaded, but that’s just me.

    This past weekend, at the apartment below mine, somebody (drunk at 2AM) tried to kick in the door because they were pissed about something. They ran off when it was clear we were gonna call the cops. But they were kicking the door so hard I could feel the whole building shake while in bed. They probably won’t come back, and it was probably a heat-of-the-moment thing. But if they come back a second time I expect the police to try and arrest them, if they can find them.

    Its the pattern that’s the problem.

    I’m not saying it was preventable, because they might not have found the guys before it happened even if they had tried. But they didn’t try.

  10. I’m sure the officers were very busy giving DARE lectures and profiling blacks in nice cars.

  11. Come on. The police didn’t drop the ball, they ignored it. Are you telling me that the police couldn’t have done any kinds of tests on the articles of clothing, the Xbox, or even the house in order to find any physical evidence about the perpatrators? Also, it was not mentioned in any of the above articles, but I recall reading that at one point the dead people, who the police didn’t feel like helping, had their tires slashed. What is property destruction not a crime in Florida? Oh, well the police didn’t have any names. What about a god-damned sketch artist? Hell, I would have run to the art department at a nearby community college. Who runs this sorry excuse for a police department.

    Also, John, once they broke into their house, it did become something for law enforcement to deal with. And they should have. Just because we would rather have a police force that is less intrusive, doesn’t mean we want one that ignores its duty. Until we have a police force with less power, they are expected to operate within the bounds of what the law allows.

  12. Its hard to believe that of all the victims, not one owned a firearm or was lent one by a friend or relative. The police should have done better, but these people could have prevented this too, with a single pistol, shotgun, or maybe even a can of pepper spray. Perhaps they were taught to be victims by pacifist/leftist parents? Or maybe their own lifestyles ruled out firearm ownership. Too weird.

  13. This may come as a surprise to you, bigbigslacker, but not everyone has ready access to firearms. I don’t know what the laws are about buying firearms in this particular community, but it might not have been possible to just run down to the local WalMart and buy one. As for borrowing one, it’s entirely possible they didn’t know anybody who owns a gun. (I’m certain none of my relatives own guns and, as far as I’m aware, none of my friends or co-workers own any either.)

  14. Are you telling me that the police couldn’t have done any kinds of tests on the articles of clothing, the Xbox…

    With all due respect, you’ve been watching too much CSI. My experience with the legal system is that cops and prosecutors have little interest in misdemeanor compaints. In Ohio (Columbus, at least) tire slashing does not rise to felony level; in fact, significantly more damage ($8000+) is still a misdemeanor. Neither does verbal harassment, even threats. The cops won’t arrest on a misdemeanor complaint that they didn’t witness themselves; the prosecutor will plea out as much as possible. The lamentable truth is that the poor girl in Florida was unaware of who was most responsible for her own safety.

    G

  15. John said:

    So what if they had done the right thing and got the guy before the murder, wouldn’t that have just made him the libertarian cause de jour? Afterall, what right do the police have to arrest someone just because there are accused of being violent and loud and some women with a grudge against the poor accused made a sensational accusation? I agree that the police dropped the ball, apparently fatally. That said, I am sorry, but this magazine complaining about the police not acting quickly enough to arrest someone doesn’t even pass the giggle test. Who does Jeff Taylor think he is kidding?

    Hang on a minute. The guy wasn’t merely accused of being violent and loud. He was illegally occupying and destroying private property and as such should have been arrested for that.

    As for the cops failing to respond. It is the duty of the police to protect society as a whole. Since the guy has been captured, they have done their job.

    This only made the national news because none of the victims were armed to sufficiently repel bat-weilding attackers.

    Yeah, I know “we shouldn’t *have* to protect ourselves from violent attackers”. I agree. But we do have to, so get over it, buy a gun, learn to use it, and this won’t happen to you.

  16. DaveInBigD said:

    My folks have a house in the North Carolina mountains. If I found a bunch of rednecks living in it, I’d call the cops to come kick them out. If they came to my house and threatened me once, I’d call the cops, but think it was a one-off. If it happened again, and the cops didn’t care, I’d go ape-shit. And I’d probably get a shotgun and keep it loaded, but that’s just me.

    So let me get this straight, you’d only go out and buy a shotgun after you had determined that the cops didn’t care?

    A little late IMHO. The cops already don’t care.

    They’ll do their best to get there if you’re being murdered – but their job is to investigate, find out who did it, and stop them before they do it again. And heaven help you if some drunk takes a swing at a cop hal-fway across town. They’ll all go to help their buddy instead of you.

    Heck, when I call the cops here I often have to wait on hold for 5 minutes or so – then they tell you they’ll try to get someone there “witin 30 minutes”.

    It’s your job to protect yourself until the police arrive.

    35 minutes is a long time to wait while someone is beating you beyond recognition with a baseball bat.

  17. Jack said:


    This may come as a surprise to you, bigbigslacker, but not everyone has ready access to firearms. I don’t know what the laws are about buying firearms in this particular community, but it might not have been possible to just run down to the local WalMart and buy one.

    Actually, it’s just that simple. You could probably get a hunting rifle or a shotgun at Wal-Mart, but the local neighborhood gun shop would probably be a better bet.

    Florida even has a “Concealed Carry” law, but it takes about 3 months to get a license, so it’s best to plan ahead.

    Even if you live in an area like Alaska or Vermont where no licensing is required, it’s a good idea to practice with a firearm. It’s better than nothing without practice, but if you practice you are more likely to do things in a safe effective way when the shit hits the fan.

    It’s probably legal to carry a concealed firearm where you live now.


    As for borrowing one, it’s entirely possible they didn’t know anybody who owns a gun. (I’m certain none of my relatives own guns and, as far as I’m aware, none of my friends or co-workers own any either.)

    It’s entirely impossible. One in six American adults owns a handgun, so you know a lot more people who own guns than you think (unless you know fewer than six people).

    And if you have children, it’s important to remember that even if you are “protecting” your children by not owning guns yourself, many of their friends houses do have them (and criminals frequently ditch firearms in public places like parks), so a wise parent should teach their kids basic gun safety.

  18. it’s not impossible, depending on where you live.

    and as proper and good for some as gun ownership is, i can’t imagine it’d be very helpful when waking up to the sound of your skull being crushed.

    sometimes guns are like superior kung fu that way.

  19. dhex said:

    it’s not impossible, depending on where you live.

    I’ve heard it estimated that the average person knows over 600 people. I don’t find that hard to believe – since I have over 700 contacts on my PDA.

    It is impossible to not know someone who owns a gun if you live in the US – though it is quite possible to be ignorant of gun ownership among your friends and co-workers. It’s not the sort of thing most people advertise.

    and as proper and good for some as gun ownership is, i can’t imagine it’d be very helpful when waking up to the sound of your skull being crushed.

    It’s not about being “proper and good”, it’s about taking personal responsibility for your safety. If you feel that your fists are sufficient protection against any violence that may come your way, that’s dandy, but I’m not going to cry when someone underestimates their required defensive capabilities.

    Who wakes up to the sound of their head being crushed? You’re telling me that 4 guys killed 5 people and a dog and nobody heard a THING? We’ve got to do something about these “bat ninjas”.

    If someone tries to gain entry into my house, I’m going to hear them coming – mostly because they’ll have to break through windows and locked doors to get to me.

    I can’t believe that anyone would argue that posession of a firearm in the Florida incident wouldn’t have resulted in a different outcome, though this appears to be your aim.

  20. A generalized experience that I?ve had and I bet others.

    Someone shot up my car ? a few years ago? no fingerprints ? the police took a report ? no action ? no follow up.

    Someone stole my mom?s credit cards ? the person was on camera ? and they even used it at a gas station with a camera again no action.

    But then ? a few weeks ago ? someone ran over a police cruiser with a fork truck ? the fork truck was cordoned off with yellow tape ? they are taking all sorts of fingerprints ? they arrested the offenders ? and if the police had there druthers ? they would send them away for life.

    Effective policing ? requires dealing with the small stuff before it gets to be a big problem.

    Bill Bratton did this in Boston and New York and it made a huge difference in the crime rate.

  21. tom said:

    Effective policing ? requires dealing with the small stuff before it gets to be a big problem.

    I have to agree. We had problems with rioting on the OSU campus a while back.

    It started out small, jaywalking, open container violations, people obstructing traffic.

    Then it escalated to bottle throwing and setting sofas and dumpsters on fire.

    After that it escalated to car tipping, car torching, and looting area businesses.

    Lately the cops have been showing a strong presence and arresting people on minor charges with minor fines and requiring only a short detention until their court date.

    I think that serves society better than waiting until there is chaos and throwing people in the brig for the greater charges of “rioting”, “arson”, etc.

    Heck, I take a similar approach to my neighborhood. I report small infractions might result in a verbal warning – or in extreme cases a ticket. As a result, people don’t let things slide and people are generally well behaved indoors.

    I don’t report “loud music” violations or anything like that because I live near the railroad tracks. My rule is, the music has to drown out the sound of the trains before I’ll report it. ;P

    I think that’s fair.

  22. I should note that in the above post when I said “requiring only a short detention until their court date”, I meant that they are detained only briefly to get them out of the area and then released after an hour or two with the understanding that they will show up for their court date.

    They are not detained until their court date obviously.

  23. Emergency?

    Dial .357

  24. “It also seems that minor property crime is not a law enforcement focus in Volusia, and is perhaps even tolerated as long as a firearm is not involved.”

    Volusia is not the exception. Indifference to small scale crime is widespread among law enforcement, the DA’s office, and the courts.

    But hey, we gotta cut ’em some slack, those bad guys probably came from a broken family.

  25. One of the funny things about our modern police state, is what folks impression of police work should be.

    I just came back from 2 weeks in the New Smyrna Beach area, and had visited this area (my cousin M. lives in Deltona, so I ambled over there for a visit or two).

    Crime prevention takes a big secondary to the standard leninist/facist doctrine down there. Mainly they try to impress you with their power, and not their efficiency. Big surprise. In a police state the only certainy is their power. Any dedication to “protect and serve” is long forgotten in the past.

    But as I learned during a traffic stop, the only requirement is that the lean on citizens, and that citizens present their backside in chimp like submission. There is little other purpose in their being.

    Which is as they intend it.

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