Two people, including a man with a long criminal history, were arrested during a manhunt after an Orlando police officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries in a gun battle this morning, OPD Police Chief Paul Rooney said.
Officer Jason Hajek, 25, is recovering after surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center after being shot in the abdomen below his protective vest.
One suspect, Demetrius Patterson, was taken into custody after he barricaded himself in a home on Roseboro Street with a 7-year-old girl in the hardscrabble neighborhood of Washington Shores in southwest Orlando where the shooting took place, Rooney said.
The second suspect was taken into custody about 8 a.m. but no other information was immediately available. He was caught while hiding in nearby woods.
The trouble began when Hajek tried to stop a vehicle about 2:30 a.m. on Roseboro Street near Bruton Boulevard and one of the suspects opened fire. Hajek returned fire striking Patterson in his lower leg.
"Even after being shot — shot and knocked down…laying in the bushes — [Hajek] was able to get on the radio," said Orlando police Chief Paul Rooney. "He was able give out his exact location and exact suspect location and description, which is extremely important because seconds matter at that point."
A fellow officer came to Hajek's aid moments later. Patterson was armed and suffering a gunshot wound to his foot when he was taken into custody. He was taken to the hospital.
Rooney said Patterson, 23, is a career criminal who had been arrested more than 40 times. The shooting scene at Roseboro Street remains closed as the investigation continues. But nearby roads have been reopened.
The bullet that struck Hajek traveled through his abdomen, into his bladder and went through his hip.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Rooney visited Hajek at his heavily-guarded room in ORMC's intensive care unit after he came out of surgery. He was off a ventilator but not completely alert.
Rooney said he is resting comfortably and is expected to recover. Hajek has been with OPD for about a year and a half.
"All of our OPD officers are heroes and heroines every day and this event just calls attention to their heroic duty," Dyer said outside the hospital's emergency room street entrance.. "We've had a number of incidents lately where routine traffic stops have turned into shootings with officers or shootings at officers."
The shooting, he said, is a reminder of the dangers faced by officers while they patrol the streets and during traffic stops. Rooney said increasingly, his officers are facing career criminals on the streets.
"They don't respect the uniform and law enforcement," Rooney said.
Patterson, who has had 26 felony arrests and 16 misdemeanor arrest, was only caught 40 times, Rooney said. But, he said, "Guess how many times [he's] probably conducted criminal activities?"
Less than a week ago, Officer Brian Wood faced certain death as he stared down the barrel of a felon's gun during a late-night traffic stop.
Akil Asim Horsford argued and fled from officers late Wednesday after they detected the strong smell of marijuana coming from his sedan. Wood knocked him down and they began to fight.
When Horsford pulled out the handgun, it misfired. He bit Wood but the office eventually subdued him.
On the Fourth of July, officers attempted to pull over Gangapersad Ramroop three times for traffic infractions before he allegedly opened fire on police.
Ramroop has a felony criminal record dating back to age 13 including two stretches in Florida prisons, records show.
After shooting at cops, police say Ramroop drove north on Powers Drive through a red light at West Colonial Drive, where he rammed the driver's door of a Mazda SUV with Robert Hunter, 25, at the wheel.
The impact drove the Mazda into a utility pole and the vehicle spun 180 degrees, ejecting Hunter onto the pavement. Before the Mazda stopped spinning, it crushed a bicycle moments after its rider, Deondre Mercer, jumped free. The police officer was not injured, but the driver of the vehicle Ramroop is accused of hitting died.
Standing 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing less than 120 pounds, Ramroop is an experienced car thief and burglar who routinely runs from police, records show.
In Dec. 2010, deputy sheriff Brandon Coates was shot twice in the head by felon Brandon Lyals, 20 during a traffic stop. Coates was killed with a .40-caliber Glock handgun Lyals stole during a residential after a traffic stop. The shooter used it to kill himself the same night after shooting Coates.
Both Dyer and Rooney pledged to strengthen the law and ties with the State Attorney's Office to keep repeat offenders behind bars.
"When we arrest these guys, we got to put them away," Dyer said.
Copyright 2013 - Orlando Sentinel
McClatchy-Tribune News Service