Two teenagers -- including one previously arrested for assault with a deadly weapon -- were identified Sunday as being involved in the killing of Windermere police Officer Robert German as the small town's mayor called on residents to tie blue ribbons on mailboxes and light poles in German's memory.
Brandon Goode, 18, and Alexandria "Alex" Hollinghurst, 17, both of Davenport, also were found dead early Saturday, both apparently by suicide, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
In October 2012, Goode was arrested on assault charges involving domestic violence in Polk County, according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement criminal history. Details of the case and its disposition were not immediately available. Two days before German was gunned down, Goode entered a pretrial diversion program to resolve misdemeanor marijuana and underage-drinking charges. Hollinghurst, according to family friends on Facebook, was from Great Britain and graduated from high school a year early.
The 31-year-old officer, known to friends as "Robbie," was shot to death on Conroy Windermere Road in the predawn hours of Saturday.
"There is a sadness throughout Windermere right now, not just at the Police Department and town offices, but at the stores, businesses and homes," Mayor Gary Bruhn said. "Officer German was well-known and well-liked ... one of those men who would take the time to stop and talk to people, and that's one of the reasons he said he liked working in Windermere, because he could do just that."
Bruhn asked residents and businesses in the town of 2,500 to adorn mailboxes and light poles with blue ribbons "as a sign of Windermere's unified sympathy and support of the Police Department and the officers who serve and protect the town."
The Sheriff's Office said nothing about the two teens Sunday and also have not said why German, a Windermere officer for five years, stopped the two as they were walking or why he called for assistance. Deputies said German was wearing a body camera on his uniform. Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jane Watrel said the criminal investigation is ongoing.
Watrel recapped the events from early Saturday in a brief statement that outlined law enforcement's response.
She said German made a "subject stop" of a white male and a white female at 3:57 a.m. and called for backup. The two were walking in the area of Horizon Circle and Conroy Windermere Road. Deputies asked German to repeat his location and he did. The first arriving deputy found German lying on the south side of the roadway, about a block west of Apopka-Vineland Road near a Walgreens. He was bleeding from a gunshot wound.
At the same time, shots were heard in the area, Watrel said.
Among those responding to the call were four deputy sheriffs, an Orlando police officer and an Ocoee police officer.
Deputies positioned a patrol car to shield German from any possible additional gunfire, put him in the vehicle and rushed him away from the scene. Orange County Fire Rescue paramedics then sped German to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound.
Goode and Hollinghurst were found dead in brush near Isleworth Realty on Conroy Windermere Road, about a block from where German was found.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office's website, Goode was released from custody Feb. 26 after he was arrested on the misdemeanor charges. Those charges could have been erased from his record had he successfully completed the diversion program, generally available only to first-time nonviolent offenders.
Late Sunday, a friend of Hollinghurst's said she was stunned by what happened. Seventeen-year-old Grace Etchells of Derbyshire, England, said she last heard from Hollinghurst in October 2012, when Hollinghurst had wished her a happy birthday.
"I'd known Alex for a total of 2 1/2 years before she moved" to the U.S., Etchells said in a Twitter exchange. "Alex was a genuinely nice girl. 0 [zero] flaws."
Meanwhile, Windermere Town Manager Robert Smith said a memorial fund will be established for the slain officer, a 2001 graduate of Lake Mary High School who was born in Canada.
"While this tragedy has shocked all of us, we are privileged to live in a great town that will never forget the sacrifice of Officer German and his fellow law-enforcement officers," Smith said in a statement. "We would again ask that you give the Windermere Police Department, our officers and the family some time to get through this tragedy."
Condolences poured in on a Facebook page, "Remembering Officer Robert German." One post said, "The other day we called him an officer. Today we call him a hero. Another Brother has fallen."
Visitation for German will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Northland, A Church Distributed, 530 Dog Track Road, Longwood. Funeral services will be open to the public beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday at Northland. Burial will be in Oaklawn Cemetery in Sanford.
The killing is the second of an Orange County law-enforcement officer in west Orange in less than two months.
Orange County Deputy Jonathan Scott Pine, 34, was shot to death while investigating car burglaries in a residential neighborhood a mile north of where German was killed.
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McClatchy-Tribune News Service