ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - St. Petersburg Police Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz and Sgt Thomas Baitinger were shot and killed and a U.S. Marshal was wounded while trying to serve a warrant. The suspected gunman, Hydra Lacy, was found dead just after 2 p.m. Monday afternoon.
The shootings occurred shortly after 7 a.m. at a home in the 3700 block of 28th Avenue South, according to police spokesman Michael Puetz.
Lacy was being sought by the US Marshals and other law enforcement agencies for an arrest warrant on a failure to appear on an aggravated battery issued last November.
He has a lengthy criminal records, including charges of aggravated assault, sexual assault and kidnapping.
Two of the officers were met at the front door by a woman who said the suspect was in the attic. Both Yaslowitz and the Marshal were near the entrance to the attic when they ordered Lacy to surrender and that's when he began firing.
Yaslowitz was struck by one of the suspect's bullets, detectives said, while the deputy was shot during the gunfire and fell to the first floor.
Baitinger and other officers went inside the house and tried to intervene, but the suspect fired several rounds through the ceiling, with at least one hitting the sergeant, who was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, in the torso. Other officers managed to get both Baitinger and the marshal out of the house despite continuing gunfire.
Both were taken to Bayfront Medical Center, however they weren't able to get Yaslowitz out, and he remained inside the house for several hours with the suspect, who refused to give up. Yaslowitz was rescued after an armored vehicle equipped with a battering ram punched a hole in the house around 9:30 a.m. He was rushed away in an ambulance accompanied by a trauma surgeon.
Before he was brought out of the home, many shots were heard at 9:15 and then again around 9:20. Tear gas canisters were fired as well.
Police Chief Chuck Harmon announced the passing of the two officers during an 11 a.m. news conference. Both were pronounced dead at the hospital.
"This is devastating to me," said Harmon. "This is a chief's worst nightmare."
The U.S. Marshal, who has not been identified, is listed in stable condition with two gunshot wounds.
The gunfire continued for quite some time. ABC Action News reporter Don Germaise said so many shots were fired that, "I couldn't count them." Multi-Media journalist Eric Moore said, "In my 22 years of covering TV news, I've never heard so much gunfire."
Chief Harmon later confirmed that more than 100 rounds were fired.
The suspect, believed to be Hydra Lacy Jr. , was found dead just after 2pm on Monday afternoon.
Lacy was a sex offender with a violent criminal history.
"He was somebody we wanted to get off the streets,” Chief Harmon said. "Who expects to walk into a house and get gunfire from the attic?"
Police were in contact with the suspect on the phone at one point earlier this morning. Harmon also said that during the standoff he texted a relative and said he had been wounded.
After the officer was brought out of the home around 9:30, there was no further contact.
The home, situated in a middle-class neighborhood on the south side of St. Petersburg, was listed in Lacy's wife's name, according to property records.
A massive police and SWAT presence remains on scene. Multiple agencies are involved, including the Tampa Police Department and the FBI. An armored Homeland Security vehicle was seen entering the crime scene around 10 a.m.
Shortly before noon, Puetz said police were "Conducting a methodical search of the house." He said police were in the house, an indication that a robotic device and video cameras were being used to search the residence.
Thurgood Marshall Middle School, Lakeview Fundamental and Jamerson Elementary schools remained on lockout, which meant no one was allowed to enter or leave the campuses, throughout the day.
One neighbor said following the shootings, she and other residents were told to evacuate. "That was like CSI ... pow pow pow ... everybody was ducking."
Another neighbor, Grace Abernathy, had a similar story. "It was just pow pow pow. Then all of a sudden there were the sirens. You heard the sirens and it got crazy."
For members of the public wishing to leave expressions of sympathy for the two officers killed this morning, a location has been designated at Police Headquarters at 1300 First Avenue North, atop the exterior stairway under the portico.
Monday's shooting is the latest in a string of shootings of police officers and comes four days after two Miami-Dade County detectives were killed by a murder suspect they were trying to arrest. That suspect was killed by another detective.
The officers were being remembered Monday at a funeral, where news of Monday's shooting added to the grief already palpable among the thousands gathered at American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami.
On Sunday, a man opened fire inside a Detroit police