Man suspected of shooting Fla. officer in the head captured in Georgia treehouse
Police found multiple flash bangs, rifle plates, body armor, two rifles, two handguns and several boxes of ammunition in the treehouse
A GoFundMe has been created for Daytona Beach Police Officer Jason Raynor.
By Frank Fernandez
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Othal "O'Zone" Wallace, the man accused of shooting a Daytona Beach police officer in the head this week, was captured early Saturday morning while hiding in a treehouse east of Atlanta, Georgia.
Police Chief Jakari Young said at an early Saturday morning press conference that a law enforcement taskforce, including local, state and federal agencies, captured Wallace at about 2:30 a.m. in a remote area in DeKalb County, Georgia.
The 3-acre property where Wallace was found is affiliated with the NFAC, which stands for the Not F-ing Around Coalition, a Black nationalist paramilitary organization, Young said.
"Othal Wallace was located hiding in a treehouse," Young said. "In the treehouse with Wallace were multiple flash bangs, rifle plates, body armor, two rifles, two handguns and several boxes of ammunition."
Wallace, 29, is accused of shooting Daytona Beach Police Officer Jason Raynor in the head Wednesday night. Wallace faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and will be extradited to Volusia County.
Daytona Beach Police officers were present when Wallace was arrested. They locked Officer Raynor's handcuffs on Wallace.
Young said Wallace stated when he was captured: "'You guys know who I am. You know what I'm capable of and it could have been a lot worse.' "
Young said he woke Raynor's family to tell them about the arrest.
"As you can imagine there was a huge sigh of relief," Young said. "And I'm hoping they can get a few hours of sleep finally. Now they can just solely focus on Officer Raynor and his recovery."
Young credited timing and surveillance and technology for the peaceful arrest despite Wallace's cache of weapons.
Young also said that while police received lots of tips, it was the surveillance and technology that led them to Wallace. He said no one qualified for the reward for Wallace's capture which on Friday had been doubled to $200,000.
There were four other people on the property where Wallace was captured, Young said. The property also contained two structures and a trailer besides the treehouse. He said he did not know what charges the other four may face or whether they were members of the NFAC militia.
He said a large arsenal of weapons was found in the main residence.
Young said he did not know if the weapon used in the officer's shooting had been recovered.
The chief also provided an update on Raynor's condition as of Friday. Raynor, 26, is being treated at Halifax Health Medical Center.
"There were very positive signs of improvement," Young said. "He still has a ways to go. But basically from his condition right now they feel comfortable moving forward with more testing because they've determined that he's now strong enough to endure more testing.
"As of right now his outlook, it is improving. It's a positive one," Young added. "But we are just going to continue to pray that he continues to heal."
Raynor has been with the police department since February 2019 and spent three years with the Port Orange Police Department before that.
Young said the biggest challenge for him during the manhunt for Wallace was making sure his officers remained vigilant and safe. Young said he was proud of his officers and thanked the help of other agencies both local and federal.
"Our families worry about us just like anybody's family members would but for them to just consistently stay at it and stay out here in these uncertain conditions, not knowing exactly where he was and who was working with him," Young said. "But they never gave up. They stayed in the fight and again I'm just extremely proud of all of them."
Young thanked a lot of law enforcement agencies, including in particular the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
Chitwood said in an interview that the sheriff's office is the largest agency in the county and has a lot of resources.
"The moment we heard that Jason, an officer had been shot, we called in every off-duty person available to bring them in and make them part of the manhunt," Chitwood said.
The suspect in the vicious shooting of Police Officer Jason Raynor was apprehended by Georgia police at a black nationalist paramilitary encampment. There is no place for hate in Florida. Our law enforcement will be protected. Justice will be swift. https://t.co/ZUIrCdUgia— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 26, 2021
Sheriff's office detectives helped Daytona Beach detectives to check into what threats they might face from the militia. Deputies also covered the city of Daytona Beach, so that police officers could be in the hospital supporting Raynor and his family.
"We covered the city to allow the officers that breathing space to deal with the tragedy," Chitwood said.
While the situation was sad, Chitwood said the response from law enforcement was impressive as patrol cars arrived at the staging area at the S. James Foxman Justice Center in Daytona Beach.
"To watch all those police cars coming not only from Volusia County but from Seminole County, Orange County, Flagler County, Brevard County, from Central Florida, FHP, Fish and Wildlife, ATF, FBI," Chitwood said. "To watch all those people, all those resources come pouring in on that first night, we had three helicopters besides our own. It was sad, but it also made you feel, so proud that all these people are rallying around a fallen officer, a wounded officer, and we are going to do everything we can to get this guy to justice.
A GoFundMe for the officer has raised more than $150,000 in less than 24 hours.