Two Florida officers killed in firefight; suspect dead -

Two Florida officers killed in firefight; suspect dead

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Authorities and a fugitive holed up in an attic fired more than 100 shots at each other Monday in a firefight that killed two officers, wounded a deputy U.S. marshal and led to an hourslong standoff that ended when the suspect was found dead inside the home.

St. Petersburg Police spokesman Michael Puetz said the suspect was found dead when officers went into the home Monday afternoon, about six hours after the shootout, the latest in a recent rash of shootings across the nation that have killed or wounded law enforcement officers.

Law enforcement had been at the home to arrest Hydra Lacy Jr., 39, around 7 a.m. on an aggravated battery charge, and investigators believe he is the one who opened fire on the officers, Puetz said. They had not confirmed Lacy was the shooter.

He said Lacy had a long record that includes convictions for armed robbery and sexual battery. He was listed as a sex offender with the state and had failed to register in December with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department as required. Deputies had been looking for him since then, and the sheriff's and police departments had issued bulletins Friday asking authorities to be on the lookout for Lacy.

"He was somebody we wanted to get off the streets, " Police Chief Chuck Harmon said. "Who expects to walk into a house and get gunfire from the attic?"

Harmon said authorities had been looking for Lacy for weeks and had been to the house before.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi identified the slain officers as Tom Baitinger, 48, and Jeffrey Yaslowitz, 39.

Authorities said Baitinger had been working with St. Petersburg police since 1996 as a patrol officer, auto theft detective and in field training. He is survived by his wife.

Yaslowitz began his law enforcement career in 1999 with the department. He worked with a K-9 unit and his dog partner, Ace.

He is survived by his wife and three children, ages 5, 8 and 12.

The marshal was shot twice but was doing fine, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Tom Figmik said.

One officer, the marshal and a Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy were the first ones at the house and were told by a woman that Lacy was in the attic. The three called for backup. Yaslowitz and Baitinger were part of the backup. Police had initially said they were among the first three to arrive.

The deputy and the woman were not hurt.

After the gunfight, authorities had tried to force the gunman out by cutting off the home's electricity and water.

Earlier, police used a vehicle to punch a hole in the wall to get to one of the officers who later died, Puetz said.

Another police spokesman at the scene, Bill Proffitt, said it was possible the suspect used one of the officers' guns during the struggle in the attic.

"In my mind as a police officer, this crook, this criminal, this murderer, cop-killer, whatever you would like to call him, did a terrible injustice to two of my people today and two of the people that served this community," Harmon said during an afternoon press conference.

The home, situated in a middle-class neighborhood on the south side of St. Petersburg, was listed in Lacy's name, according to property records. After the shootout, a Department of Homeland Security armored tactical vehicle was parked nearby, as dozens of law enforcement officers congregated on nearby streets. A police tank was also trained on the home.

Court records show Lacy failed to show for his scheduled trial Nov. 1 on the aggravated battery charge, and an arrest warrant was issued the next day.

State records show Lacy was convicted in 1989 of armed burglary, resisting arrest with violence and other charges. He was released from prison 1991. In 1992, he was convicted of sexual battery with a weapon or force and false imprisonment of a child. He was released in from prison 2001. Details on those convictions were not immediately available.

Monday's shooting 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 precinct, wounding four officers including a commander before he was shot and killed by police. The officers' injuries were not considered life-threatening, said Police Chief Ralph Godbee.

And on Monday, a Lincoln City, Ore., police officer was critically wounded when he was shot during a traffic stop.


Associated Press writers Christine Armario and Lisa Orkin contributed to this report from Miami.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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