Five officers from the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Police Department have been named Officers of the Month by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Sergeant Karl Lounge, and officers Darrell Goodrow, Timothy McClintik, Max McDonald and Douglas Weaver received the honor for the month of October.
The recognition of the officers is the result of shootout on Jan. 24 when police attempted to arrest a fugitive over several hours. Yet unlike Hollywood, the shoot out did not have a happy ending. Rather two officers were killed in the line of duty, but others survived thanks to the heroic actions of the officers honored by the memorial fund organization.
A news release announcing the honor details the events of that fateful day: On Jan. 24, members of the St. Petersburg Police Department, working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals Service, attempted to locate a fugitive, Hydra Lacy, Jr., who had been on the run for several months. During an interrogation, Lacy’s wife seemed evasive about his whereabouts, and the officers determined Lacy was hiding in the attic of her home at that moment and was possibly armed.
St. Petersburg Police K-9 Officer Jeff Yaslowitz and Deputy U.S. Marshal Scott Ley found Lacy in the attic — and attempted to arrest him — when a struggle began. Marshal Ley heard gunshots and witnessed Officer Yaslowitz go limp. As Marshal Ley transitioned from his Taser to his firearm, he was shot twice, causing him to fall through the attic opening. Officer Timothy McClintik was able to drag Marshal Ley into a bathroom, out of the line of fire.
Responding to the emergency call, backup officers arrived and quickly set up a perimeter. Sergeant Karl Lounge met with Sergeant Tom Baitinger, Officer Doug Weaver, a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) officer, and Officer Max McDonald and prepared to rescue the injured officers trapped inside the house. As they approached the attic entrance, they spotted Officer Yaslowitz’s foot near the attic opening. Sergeant Baitinger moved ahead armed with a ballistic shield.
Suddenly, shots rang out, and he was struck twice. Sergeant Lounge and Officer Weaver immediately returned fire. Officer Weaver climbed the attic ladder, grabbing Officer Yaslowitz’s boot in an attempt to pull him to safety. Lacy then tried to bait the other officers into the attic by moving Officer Yaslowitz’s body to the attic opening. As Officer Weaver attempted to rescue Officer Yaslowitz, a round grazed Officer Weaver’s hand, causing him to lose his grip and fall out of the attic.
Officer Weaver retreated into the bathroom where Officer McClintik and Marshal Ley had taken refuge. Officers Weaver and McClintik broke the bathroom window and pulled Marshal Ley safely from the house. Officer Darrell Goodrow, who had experience operating heavy equipment, moved a borrowed dump truck up to the house to provide cover for the officers as they rushed Marshal Ley to an awaiting ambulance.
As the officers re-entered the house, Officer Weaver broke out a bedroom window in an attempt to rescue Sergeant Baitinger. He knocked over a cabinet, blocking the entrance to the bedroom, while shielding himself and Sergeant Baitinger from more gunfire. Officer Weaver called for help, and Sergeant Lounge responded, providing cover as Officers McDonald and additional officers helped extract Sergeant Baitinger from the house.
Officer Weaver quickly gathered his SWAT team together to re-enter the house to attempt, again, to rescue Officer Yaslowitz, who was still trapped inside with the fugitive, Lacy. The team remained under fire, dodging shots from Lacy, but they were finally able to free Officer Yaslowitz and remove him from the house.
All officers had now been evacuated from the house, and the risk was too high to send another officer inside. Officer Goodrow used a front end loader and started to remove the roof of the house in order to gain a visual of the attic from a safe distance, enabling officers to discover Lacy’s body. The fugitive had died from multiple gunshot wounds.
Sergeant Tom Baitinger and K-9 Officer Jeff Yaslowitz succumbed to injuries sustained during the incident. Due to the heroic actions of all of the officers involved, Deputy Marshal Ley survived.
Sergeant Karl Lounge and Officers Darrell Goodrow, Timothy McClintik, Max McDonald and Douglas Weaver all received the St. Petersburg (FL) Police Department’s Medal of Valor for their efforts in rescuing their injured officers. In addition, many other officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department and surrounding agencies that responded to the incident were also awarded for their courageous actions during a chaotic and dire situation.
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers.
The Memorial Fund Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
The St. Petersburg officers, and other Officers of the Month for 2011, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, D.C., in May 2012 during National Police Week.