St. Petersburg After-Action Report (2 of 2)

The suspect moved the K-9 officer's deceased body 10 to 15 feet to the attic opening and placed the officer's boot in view of fellow officers. He also intentionally set a trap to lure police into his line of fire.

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In the first part of this blog, we analyzed the after-action report on the Jan. 24 incident in which suspect Hydra Lacey opened fire on officers of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Police Department and a deputy U.S. Marshal. Two officers were killed and the deputy marshal was seriously wounded.

As we continue our examination of the after-action report, let's look at the tactical response following the attack on the officers and the marshal.

Responding to the 10-24 (emergency, all units respond) call, four officers entered the home to rescue trapped officers.  Inside they saw bullet holes in the ceiling and a fallen police officer in the attic with his boot hanging out of the trap door. The officers were armed with two AR-15s and a ballistic shield that a sergeant put above his head as cover.

The rescue team moved toward the trapped officers. Multiple gunshots erupted from the attic. One bullet struck the sergeant in the lower right back of his vest, spinning him around, and he was shot a second time in the upper chest. The officers returned fire through the ceiling.

Using a step ladder, an officer tried to pull his fallen comrade in the attic to safety. However, he wouldn't "budge". The suspect fired at officers again, causing the officer to fall off the ladder.

The trapped officers were rescued through a bathroom window. The suspect continued firing at officers as they rescued the wounded sergeant. At this point all of the officers, except the mortally wounded K-9 officer in the attic were out of the house.

By now, numerous police were arriving on the scene. Multiple cell phone attempts to get the suspect to release the K-9 officer and give up were rejected, and the suspect threatened to kill the officer. The suspect said he had the K-9 officer's earpiece and could hear what police were saying. The suspect was also calling and talking via cell phone to friends, saying his goodbyes.

A tactical operations team (TAC) entered the home and fired tear gas into the attic. As the the tactical team entered, the suspect fired at them through the ceiling. TAC returned fire and retreated.

TAC fired more tear gas, then re-entered the home, firing into the attic but away from the K-9 officer. Employing cover fire, TAC tried to pull the K-9 officer to safety. However, the TAC officer had great difficulty doing so because the suspect had wrapped wire and duct work around the officer's leg. Eventually, TAC pulled the K-9 officer to safety. But the rescue attempt lasted 27 minutes.

Both the K-9 officer and the sergeant died from their wounds.  Only the suspect was inside the home now, and it was not known if he was still alive. Using an armored vehicle for cover, heavy equipment was employed to remove portions of the house to see inside the attic. At 2:13 p.m., entry was made and the suspect was found deceased on the living room floor. He had fallen through the ceiling during the removal of portions of the roof.

The autopsy revealed the K-9 officer died of two rapid-succession GSWs to the head from the suspect's 9mm. The shots  immediately rendered the officer unconscious.

An autopsy revealed the sergeant died of a single GSW from the suspect's 9mm to the upper chest. The bullet struck above his vest, and traveled down into his torso. A second round from a .40 caliber pistol struck the sergeant in the lower right back and was stopped by his vest. It was determined that the suspect was simultaneously firing both his 9mm and the K-9 officer's .40.

The suspect's autopsy revealed he had GSWs to his left chest, right leg, right buttocks, hip, right middle finger, and three wounds to the arm. His upper left chest wound was the only fatal wound. All of his wounds were from .40 or .223 caliber rounds. None of his wounds were postmortem.

Investigators concluded the suspect's goal was to kill or injure as many police officers as possible. The suspect moved the K-9 officer's deceased body 10 to 15 feet to the attic opening and placed the officer's boot in view of fellow officers. He also intentionally wrapped duct work and wire around the officer's leg, apparently setting a trap to lure police into his line of fire.

The state attorney concluded his report to SPPD Chief Charles Harmon saying: "I wish to commend your officers for the repeated acts of heroism that were displayed that day in the attempt to rescue their fellow officers. This tragic event is yet another example of the dangers faced by our law enforcement officers."

Editor's Note: Read the first part, "St. Petersburg After-Action Report (1 of 2)."

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