POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrest of two men on attempted murder charges Sunday. A third suspect is also in custody after being apprehended in south Florida.
According to law enforcement, around 9 p.m. on January 2, an officer with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) was patrolling near the River Ranch Hunt Camp. He was responding to reports of poachers, or night hunters.
While patrolling, the FWC officer noticed a light shining on the River Ranch Hunt Camp property, which is nearly 24,000 acres of land next to the Avon Park Bombing Range.
Officials say the FWC officer heard a gunshot, which is when he approached the three suspects, took their shotguns and detained them.
According to Sheriff Judd, this is when the suspects jumped the FWC officer, ran him over with an ATV, and took off.
“They decided that this was gonna be the night where he was gonna have to fight for his life, and that’s what he did,” said Major Roger Young, Southwest Regional Commander for FWC.
Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff's Office responded to calls for help from the injured FWC officer, as their deputies were closest to the scene, and they say they used the GPS tracker from the FWC vehicle to locate the officer. He was transported to the hospital for injuries and has been released.
Nearly 100 law enforcement officers from FWC, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Lakeland Police Department, Auburndale Police Department, Winter Haven Police Department and Lake Wales Police Department held a perimeter throughout the night, searching on the ground, and by air for the suspects.
Sheriff Judd says law enforcement came across a submerged ATV, and a cell phone during the hunt. Officials tracked down the owner of the cell phone Sunday morning. He, and a second suspect, were staying in a campsite on the River Ranch Hunt Camp Property.
The two men arrested are:
Michel Amalfi, of Miami, charged with Attempted murder of a LEO (F2), Resisting arrest (F3),Tampering with evidence (F3), Keeping a nuisance injurious to health (M2)
Lazaro Milian, of Miami, charged with Attempted murder of a LEO (F2), Resisting arrest (F3), Tampering with evidence (F3), Keeping a nuisance injurious to health (M2), Unauthorized possession of crate (M1), Miami-Dade warrant for VOP - grand theft (M2)
“These folks from Miami, made a mistake when they set up camp in Polk County,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
A third man, Rodrigo Alberto Mato La Rosa was also arrested and charged with Attempted murder of a LEO (F2) and Resisting arrest (F3).
“You see, when you attack one law enforcement officer, you have attacked all law enforcement officers,” said Sheriff Judd.
The FWC officer was transported to the hospital, treated for injuries, and has since been released.