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Monday, January 24, 2011

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

Ambush: Two police officers were shot dead today in St Petersburg, Florida, as they attempted to serve a warrant

Police have found the body of a man they believe shot and killed two police officers Monday, a St. Petersburg, Florida, police spokesman said.

The two officers died in a morning shootout while trying to find a suspect named in an aggravated battery warrant, Police Chief Chuck Harmon said. A third officer, a deputy U.S. marshal, was shot twice and wounded, but was in stable condition at a hospital, officials said.

Even after they knocked a hole in a wall to rescue one officer, police did not know where the suspect was, St. Petersburg police spokeswoman Midge Walsh said.

So they used a backhoe to rip down much of the home -- which, by Monday afternoon, was largely a pile of wood and rubble, as seen in aerial video footage from the scene. Numerous law enforcement personnel also were working outside the residence.

Around 2:45 p.m., St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt said that a deceased man -- believed to be the shooter and the man authorities had been looking for originally -- had been found in the house.

The name of the suspect has not been released by police.

Authorities had been trying to locate the suspect for weeks, Harmon said, using both uniformed and undercover officers. The officers went to the home about 7 a.m. Monday to talk to a "young lady" regarding his whereabouts, but did not expect the man to be there, the chief said.

The woman told the officers the man was in the home's attic, Harmon said. The officers went after the man, who fired at them from the attic, he said. One of the officers had stayed in the attic after being shot, and he was eventually rescued without further gunfire erupting.

In total, Harmon estimated, more than 100 shots were fired from both the suspect and the officers.

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

He did not release the two officers' names, saying he would later Monday. Both officers were married, he said, and one had children. Both had been with the department for "well over 10 years," he said.

"I've been chief for 10 years, almost ... and I haven't lost an officer," Harmon said. "This is devastating to me. This is a chief's worst nightmare." He said the two "died as heroes."

Harmon said he had spoken to both officers' wives and "obviously, they're in a state of shock."

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster told reporters it was a "dark day." "Our hearts are grieving," he said.

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 and Lincoln City, Oregon -- were critically injured Sunday after being shot during traffic stops

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