Skip to main content

2 officers killed, man found dead after shootout inside Florida home

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Chief: Officer deaths 'worst nightmare'
  • NEW: Police identify Hydra Lacy Jr., 39, as the man who killed two police officers
  • St. Petersburg officers Jeffrey Yaslowitz and Tom Baitinger are killed
  • Police used a backhoe to tear down a house and find the wanted Lacy
  • A third officer, a U.S. marshal, was also shot but is "doing well"

(CNN) -- A wanted Florida man shot and killed two St. Petersburg police officers Monday morning, and later the apparent assailant was found dead after police used a backhoe to tear through his house, authorities said.

St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon said the two slain members of his department were "ambushed" by the shooter, who they believe was a man wanted on an outstanding warrant for aggravated battery. A deputy U.S. marshal, who has not been identified, is "doing well" at a hospital after being shot twice, said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Tom Figmik.

"This crook, this criminal, this cop-killer ... did a terrible injustice to two of my people," said Harmon. "I feel a lot of anger, I feel remorse for the families. ... It's a sobering reminder of what our officers face all the time."

The incident began around 7 a.m. Monday, when law enforcement from the city's Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office went to a home in the west Florida city to ask a relative of Hydra Lacy Jr., who was wanted by police, about him.

The woman told them that Lacy was upstairs in the attic and might be armed, according to Harmon.

Florida arrest turns to shootout

K-9 Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz and a deputy U.S. marshal were shot at as they got near the attic -- where they intended to try to coax Lacy to surrender -- according to police. A gunfight ensued, during which another member of St. Petersburg's police force, Sgt. Tom Baitinger, was shot from above.

While this was going on, a police search team entered the house and pulled out Yaslowitz, who was wounded but alive.

"I heard 150 to 200 gunshots during that exchange," said Harmon. "You cringe, because you hope you don't send an officer (and) there's another death."

Yaslowitz and Baitinger were eventually taken to local hospitals, where they were pronounced dead.

Even after the shots subsided, police were not able to locate the shooting suspect. They eventually used a backhoe to tear down one-third of the house and found a dead man.

He was later positively identified, using fingerprints, as the 39-year-old Lacy, according to a statement from St. Petersburg police.

Lacy had what police, in a statement, called a "significant criminal history" that included kidnapping, sexual assault and aggravated assault on a police officer.

"He was somebody we wanted to get off the street," Harmon said earlier Monday. "And obviously, today you see why."

Baitinger, who was married, was a former detective who joined the St. Petersburg force nearly 15 years ago. Yaslowitz was a nearly 12-year veteran of the department and is survived by three children, ages 5, 8 and 12, and his wife.

"They served the people of this community with distinction, with passion, with resilience, with heroism," said Mayor Bill Foster. "And they gave their lives today, so we can do what we can do."

The three law enforcement officers are among at least 11 shot nationwide in a 24-hour period.

Four officers were shot and wounded at a Detroit police precinct on Sunday. Two Kitsap County, Washington, sheriff's deputies were shot and wounded at a Walmart in the town of Port Orchard. And officers in two locations -- Indianapolis, Indiana, and Lincoln City, Oregon -- were critically injured Sunday after being shot during traffic stops.

CNN's Dave Alsup and Mike Ahlers contributed to this report