by Constance Daley
St. Simons Island, Ga.
January 25, 2011
ABOUT THE SPRATTS
BRADENTON, Fla., Jan. 24, 2011, 4 p.m. -- Two St. Petersburg, Fla., officers and a deputy U.S. Marshal are the latest in a series of shootings that have targeted multiple police officers and killed four in the past week. Among them were eight officers wounded in the states of Indiana, Oregon, Washington and Michigan on Sunday.
Sgt. Major Tom Baitinger, 48, and officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, 31, were shot to death around 7 a.m. Monday as police tried to serve warrants on Hydra Lacy, Jr., 39, at his estranged wife's home in St. Petersburg for aggravated assault and two felony charges. The deputy U.S. Marshal was reported to be in stable condition at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.
Lacey may have been shooting down from an attic with a pistol - apparently grabbed from one of the dead officers - and hit areas of the body unprotected by the officers' bulletproof vests. The deputy U.S. Marshal was hit in a protected area and survived.
A barrage of hundreds of rounds of automatic gunfire and two loud explosions terrified the neighborhood as SWAT officers sought to remove the wounded police officers around 8:15 a.m. Monday morning. Both of the dead police officers were married veterans of the force, and officer Yaslowitz, leader of a K9 unit, had three young children, police say.
The city's newly-elected mayor, Bill Foster, said the men's actions had made him "extremely proud. "The city of St. Petersburg has suffered a tremendous loss today," he said.
The 295-lb. suspect had served 15 years for sexual battery and imprisonment of a child, and was under a restraining order that police said was supposed to keep him from going to the home.
The St. Petersburg victims were among eight regular law enforcement officers shot on Sunday in the United States.
In addition, four officers and a police chief were killed by Communist rebels in the Philippines who had earlier bombed the officers' patrol car.
Four officers were shot Sunday at Detroit's Sixth Precinct Sunday when a man armed with a pump-action shotgun walked into the precinct house and without warning immediately started shooting until he was killed by officers. All will survive, authorities say.
And in still another shooting, this one in Indianapolis, police officer David Moore, 29, was shot four times, including twice in the head and once in the hip, during a traffic stop in that city. The police officer remains in a coma.
The suspect in the Indianapolis case, Thomas Hardy, 60, was being questioned by police. He has faced four felony theft charges in two cases over the past year, and had reportedly robbed a Dollar General store 50 minutes earlier.
Officer Steve Dodds, 43, was shut during a traffic stop on U.S. 101 by a man stopped for speeding. David Lee Durham, 45, the registered owner of the Dodge pickup truck that Dodds stopped for speeding, and he is the subject of a search by multiple police agencies suroounding the scenic Oregon coastal city about 150 miles south of Portland.
Two police officers were shot to death last Thursday in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami as veteran Miami P.D. detectives Roger Castillo, 41, and Amanda Haworth, 44, tried to serve a warrant at a Miami home on Johnny Sims, 22, who had a lengthy police record of 11 arrests since age 14 and was recently released from prison.
Castillo, one of the officers, was married with three children. Haworth, a single mother, had a 13-year-old son. The suspect was killed after he dove out of a bedroom shooting and was hit by return fire from the detectives.
Meanwhile, after a $100,000 reward has been posted for the gunman who reportedly shot Los Angeles Unified School District officer Jeffrey Stenroos, 30, an 8-year veteran of the school police who said he tried to apprehend a man robbing vehicles near El Camino High School in Woodland Hills, Calif., was arrested Thursday for fabricating the entire event. A massive LAPD manhunt had locked down a dozen area schools after Stenroos falsely reported a car burglar had shot him in the chest.
The incident was an "embarrassment to law enforcement," a police union spokesman told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. Jan. 28. "The law enforcement community is disgusted," Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said in a statement. "While Mr. Stenroos is a disgrace to his badge, his individual and dangerous actions should not reflect on the hardworking men and women in law enforcement."
Monday's shooting in St. Petersburg brings to six the number of police officers killed in Florida since June, the greatest toll in the United States, where a national police union spokesman said 200 officers have been shot over the past year. At least 10 officers in five states were shot on Sunday, Jan. 24, alone.
Tampa, Fla., residents were shattered last June 29 by the shooting death of two Tampa patrol officers, David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, both 31, as they followed up on a felony warrant after Curtis stopped a suspicious vehicle around 2:15 a.m. and called for backup; Kocab arrived minutes later to aid him. Officer Kocab and his wife was married, and his wife lost a second child in childbrth less than a month after the shooting. Officer Curtis, known as a devoted family man, was married, and he his wife had four sons. A year earlier, in August 2009, the city mourned the loss of Cpl. Mike Roberts, who was also killed in an early morning traffic stop.
The suspect, Dontae Morris, 24, turned himself in four days later after the largest manhunt in the city's history. He was charged in a third unrelated murder and is a supect in two others.
In another incident Sunday, two sheriff's deputies were wounded in a shooting that took the life of an unidentified teenage girl killed by the alleged shooter, Anthony A. Martinez, 31, who was killed during the incident by a third female deputy who arrived to help the wounded officers. The girl is believed to be a 13-year-old acquaintance of the suspect, who had earlier been seen with her.
The officers are in serious condition at a Tacoma, Wash., hospital with non-life threatening injuries. None of the deputies nor the dead girl, who carried no identification, were named. The incident occurred in a parking lot in the small suburban city 27 miles from Seattle.
The rash of shootings have no apparent connection, but the frequency and volume of shootings in which police officers are victims have some common aspects.
All were killed by lone shooters, and it appears all the suspects had police records. The shooters used a variety of weapons, from shotguns to pistols.
Several may have faced life imprisonment under so-called three-strikes laws that require such criminals to remain in prison without parole for the rest of their lives after a third offense.
Four of the police officers have died since Thursday in the course of serving warrants at private homes in Florida.
Updated Jan. 28, 2011, to include the shooting of Officer Dobbs in Waldport, Ore., on Sunday, Jan. 23, and the arrest of Officer Jeffrey Stenroos on Jan. 27 for filing a false police report.