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13-year-old opens fire several times on Fla. officers, wounding 1, during pursuit

“He may be 13 years chronologically, but he’s a hardened criminal willing to shoot it out with cops,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said


Fox 13 Tampa Bay/YouTube

By Mark Price
The Charlotte Observer

LAKELAND, Fla. — A 13-year-old boy armed with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun shot a Florida police officer — and ended up shot himself when another cop returned fire, according the Lakeland Police Department.

Both the officer and teen are hospitalized with non-life-threatening wounds, police said at a Wednesday, May 10, press conference.

The officer was hit in the left foot, while the boy was shot in the “lower extremities,” officials said.

Investigators accused the boy of engaging police in at least two gunfights, both Wednesday at a crowded apartment community.

“(The suspect) had no regard for life. None. Zero,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at the press conference.

“He may be 13 years chronologically, but he’s a hardened criminal willing to shoot it out with cops. And we’re going to do our very best to send him to prison for a very long time. ... He is a very dangerous, hardened criminal.”

The series of events began around 5:15 p.m., when witnesses reported a white Dodge Avenger had been involved in a drive-by shooting at Simpson Park, police said.

Officer Jamie Smith was nearby when he saw the vehicle and began a pursuit that ended with three people jumping from the vehicle and running, officials said.

Among the three was an armed boy seen running down the sidewalk near the Carrington Place Apartments, officials said.

“(Smith) got out of his vehicle, engaged in a foot pursuit (and) he commanded the 13-year-old young man to drop the weapon several times,” officials said.

“As (Smith) rounded the corner of the building, the 13-year-old was waiting for him in a crouched position with a handgun aimed toward the officer and fired one round. ... The officer returned fire. The officer was struck one time in the left foot.”

Smith reloaded his gun and continued chasing the suspect, who quickly vanished into bushes outside one building, officials said.

Other officers arrived as backup and joined the search, including one who saw the suspect jump out of the bushes and run, police said.

“They engaged in another gun battle there. And in the second gun battle, the 13 year old is struck several times, goes down, the officer immediately render first aid to him and he is ultimately transported to Tampa General Hospital where he is being treated.”

It was the 13-year-old’s second arrest this year, officials said. In January, he was arrested with a stolen gun as the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of car burglaries, officials said. The gun had been taken from one of the vehicles, officials said.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has joined the shooting investigation and intends to have the boy charged as an adult, including a charge of attempted murder of the police officer, officials said.

“He entered into adult criminal activity and we are going to treat him like an adult,” Judd said.

Lakeland police have arrested one other person traveling in the Dodge Avenger and a third has been identified, officials said.

Lakeland is about 35 miles northeast of Tampa.

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