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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Pine Hills, Florida 05/05/2004

Trapped in a garage by two suspects, Deputy Jennifer Fulford relied on her training to win a pitched gun battle.

January 01, 2006  |  by - Also by this author

Get Rid of Them

As home invaders go, the trio of Dzibinski, Jenkins, and Byrom were not exactly criminal masterminds. They hadn't controlled the occupants of the house, so the boy had been able to call 911 and now they were looking out the window at a major complication.

Seeing the deputies converging on the house, Jenkins chose to intimidate the female resident. "Get rid of them," he ordered.

That didn't work. They watched as she talked to the cops. But the cops weren't leaving. And a female officer was now moving toward the house. From Jenkins' point of view, everything was going to crap in a hurry.


This may have been Deputy Fulford's view, as she approached the Pine Hills, Fla., garage on the morning of May 5, 2004.

In the Garage

As Dep. Fulford neared the open door of the attached garage, she saw a van and an SUV parked inside. Entering the garage on the driver's side of the van, she peered into the van's windows. Two small children buckled into car seats stared hopefully up at her. She wondered where the third child was.

She smiled comfortingly at the two kids, then tried the doors. Locked. As she attempted to retreat from the garage, she noticed that Dep. Martin had moved to the driveway just outside.

"I can't get the kids out," she said, and started toward him. "The doors are..."

She didn't get a chance to finish. There were male voices-fast, agitated-coming from the opposite side of the minivan. Suddenly, a volley of three to four shots rang out.

Fulford dropped to the ground, keyed her mic, and advised over her portable radio, "Shots fired!"

Martin, wounded in the shoulder, rolled out of the kill zone for cover.

Unable to see Martin, Fulford drew her Glock and spun in the direction of the shots. They were coming from the back of the van. Fulford braced just as the six-foot, 275-pound Jenkins emerged from the rear of the minivan, his 9mm pistol blazing.

Bullets slammed into Fulford's body as she returned fire. Jenkins collapsed to the ground against the garage wall but continued to fire. Fulford ducked down behind the wheel well of the minivan. She saw movement toward the front of the vehicle. John Dzibinski had entered the garage and was now firing at her.

Gunfire surrounded Fulford. Jenkins was firing. Dzibinski was firing. Dep. Martin was firing. And of course, she was firing. Her senses overloaded. Time slowed. The deafening booms of the shots were only small "pops" to her ears.

Fulford was now on the garage floor trapped between the minivan and an SUV and exchanging fire with suspects to her front and rear. At least with Jenkins at the rear she'd been able to get cover behind the van. But with Dzibinski now at the front, leaning over the hood of the van and shooting, Fulford had nowhere to go.

Trapped, she alternated her fire back and forth, consciously using her .45 caliber Speer hollow points to both suppress the fire of her attackers and stop their attacks.

Dzibinski left the front of the van and ducked behind cover. Fulford took inventory of her injuries. She'd taken several rounds in her legs. She prepared to reengage.

I will not die here. I will not die in this dirty garage at the hands of these two suspects, she thought.

Tags: Orange County (Fla.) Sheriff, Shots Fired, Awards and Honors, Home Invasions


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Charles Allen @ 6/15/2013 1:37 AM

A courageous officer that thinks about the welfare of others and then goes to work; this is what a hero is made of! I am sure Detective Fulford is still making decisions that actually improve other peoples lives. Thank you hero for stepping out in faith and prevailing.

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