Five officers from the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Police Department were instrumental in the attempted rescue of three officers ambushed inside of a house. Wanted fugitive Hydra Lacy Jr. was shooting at officers through the ceiling from his hiding place in the attic. Two St. Petersburg officers died, but a U.S. Marshal survived. For their valiant efforts, Officer Darrell Goodrow, Sgt. Karl Lounge, Officer Timothy McClintick, Officer Max McDonald, and Officer Doug Weaver are being recognized as the October 2011 officers of the month by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Officers Tim McClintick and Jeff Yaslowitz, and U.S. Deputy Marshal Scott Ley went to the residence of Hydra Lacy Jr. the morning of Jan. 24, looking for the wanted fugitive.
After thoroughly searching the one-story house, Officer Yaslowitz, affectionately known as "Yaz," hoisted himself into the attic and Marshal Ley followed. Neither found anything. But as he was leaving Yaslowitz saw Lacy and instructed the fugitive to show his hands and crawl backward toward him. Lacy did so and seemed cooperative, until he suddenly produced a 9mm. He shot Yaslowitz, and then shot Ley in the groin and vest. Ley lost his balance and fell through the attic opening to the floor below.
Lacy started firing down on the other officers. Unable to retrieve Yaslowitz, McClintick helped the wounded marshal and they sought cover in the nearby bathroom. They tried calling up to Yaslowitz, but Lacy shot in the direction of their voices. So they quietly radioed for help. And it came in spades.
"There were quite a few transmissions that they needed ballistic shields. I had the only one available on the street at that time, so I went over," says Sgt. Karl Lounge. He arrived at the back of the house where Officers Tom Baitinger, Doug Weaver, and Max McDonald were gathering to go in as a rescue team.
Looking for the bathroom, they all entered and saw Yaslowitz's boot hanging down from the attic opening. Baitinger stood under the access and used the shield for cover as Weaver tried to pull the officer down, but he was stuck. Lacy had moved Yaslowitz over the attic access as bait and wrapped his legs with wire. As Weaver and Baitinger struggled to get Yaslowitz free, one of Lacy's rounds hit Baitinger and delivered what would be a mortal wound.
"I knew Yaz was dead when I reached up into the attic," says Weaver. He decided to first focus on rescuing those who were still alive. Weaver saw Baitinger was down and wanted to help him, but he would have had to cross the attic opening and a hail of gunfire to do so. Instead, he focused on getting McClintick and Ley out of the bathroom. Weaver broke out the window and he and McClintick hoisted the injured Ley out to safety as McDonald assisted from the outside. They all helped take Ley to an ambulance. He survived.
"I returned to the house, and shots started coming down from the ceiling again," says McDonald, "but I had no target and I didn't want to hit Yaz, who was near where the shots were coming from. That was the most difficult moment for me because I didn't want to put rounds in my buddy."
Meanwhile, Weaver went around the house to the bedroom where Baitinger was. He broke the window and climbed inside. Weaver called for help to move the now unresponsive Baitinger, so Lounge went out the front door and provided cover while McDonald and other officers helped Weaver hoist Baitinger out of the window.
All officers were now out of the house, except for Yaslowitz. Lacy called 911 to communicate with the police and told them Yaz was still alive.
Weaver, a SWAT officer, orchestrated a rescue with his team. The SWAT team entered the house under fire and shot back at Lacy through the ceiling. Another officer was able to free Yaslowitz and remove him from the house. He had been shot twice in the head by Lacy and likely died instantly.
Unable to get further response from Lacy and unwilling to risk more officers' lives by going in, the decision was made to remove the roof of the house to access the man and end the standoff. Officer Darrell Goodrow had experience operating heavy equipment, so he borrowed a front-end loader from a nearby construction site.
Lacy was found inside, where he died from officers' bullets. The house was razed.
In addition to being selected as NLEOMF officers of the month, Goodrow, Lounge, McClintick, McDonald, and Weaver received their agency's medal of valor. "I'm extremely honored," says McClintick. "But I'd give everything back in a heartbeat to bring back the other two guys."
NLEOMF's Officers of the Month (photos)
St. Petersburg After-Action Report (1 of 2)