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Video: Man who texted ‘murder’ to 911 wounds Fla. officer before fatal OIS

The shootout occurred when Ft. Lauderdale Police Department officers, believing the man was holding someone else in the hotel room with him, instructed him to exit the room with his hands up; instead, he emerged with a gun

By Angie DiMichele
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Margate resident who had a documented history of struggling with a mental health illness texted 911 on the morning of March 21 with the address of a Fort Lauderdale hotel and the word “murder.”

Karl Chludinsky’s 911 call and texts that morning led Fort Lauderdale Police officers to believe there was possibly a victim in his sixth-floor hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express in the 1500 block of Southeast 17th Street, and that he was armed and would shoot whoever approached his room. After Chludinsky was dead and officers entered the room, they found no one else inside.

Fort Lauderdale Police released new segments of 911 communications audio and body-worn camera video of the shootout in the hotel hallway Thursday, one week after Chludinsky’s death. The video shows officers shouting for Chludinsky to come out of his room and the moment Chludinsky opens the hotel room door, lowers his hand pointing a gun at the officers, prompting the officers’ spray of bullets and Chludinsky shooting back at them through the door.

The three officers who shot at Chludinsky were identified Thursday as Officer Pascal France, Officer Jose Lopez and Officer Jack DiCristofalo, who was also shot during the encounter.

Chludinsky, 46, was committed to a hospital under the Baker Act multiple times, as recently as January 2022, according to court records. Margate Police filed a risk protection order that year to remove his guns from Chludinsky under Florida’s “red flag law” after a mental health expert expressed concerns about him being dangerous. They were returned to him in April 2023 once the order expired.

A communications operator relayed to officers that Chludinsky said “he has guns and will start shooting at whoever is at his front door, and also rambling, stating that his wife is being raped,” according to the audio released by the police department.

The operator said that the caller, who is not named or identified in the audio, said he saw a therapist. He claimed he had fully automated weapons and three handguns “and he will shoot,” the operator said.

“And he states he hears his wife struggling, she’s being raped,” the operator said.

Chludinsky told the 911 call taker multiple times that he would shoot, and “if he sees the door move, he will shoot,” the operator said. The man was also talking as if someone was in the background and was “rambling,” according to the audio. Fort Lauderdale Police said no one was in the room with him when officers eventually entered.

Chludinsky’s texts to 911 were brief: At 7:37 a.m., he texted 911 the address of the hotel and replied with only “murder” when the operator asked him by text what happened. He did not answer texted questions about what he meant, who was murdered and whether anyone was injured or needed paramedics.

Another text at 7:59 a.m. said, “murder she dead.” He did not reply to the call taker asking for the address of the emergency.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel requested Chludinsky’s 911 call. The police department has not released it as of late Thursday afternoon.

The released segment of body-worn camera video shows several officers with guns drawn standing outside Chludinsky’s room shortly after 8:40 a.m.

“It’s the police!” Officer DiCristofalo shouted. “Come out. Come out with your hands up!”

Chludinsky could be heard shouting something back from inside his room, though what he said is not clear in the video.

“Come out with your hands up!” DiCristofalo said.

As Chludinsky opened the door, the officers continued to shout for him to raise his hands, the video shows. Chludinsky appeared to be holding onto the door with a cellphone in his left hand and a gun in his right hand.

“Hands up! Hands up! Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands!” DiCristofalo shouted as Chludinsky opened the door. The officers were standing back from the door at angle.

As the officer moved closer to the door, Chludinsky could be seen lowering the gun in his hand toward the officers in the hallway while appearing to shut the door. DiCristofalo began shooting, the video shows.

“Gun! Gun! Gun!” DiCristofalo shouted.

The shooting stopped for a brief moment before more rounds flew for about 10 seconds between both Chludinsky, from behind the hotel door, and from officers who were still in the hallway, the video showed. Bullets could be seen coming through the door, fired by Chludinsky.

“Hey, I’m hit,” DiCristofalo told the other officers after the shooting stopped. “I’m hit pretty good.”

The police department also released a photo of what they said was a bullet lodged in DiCristofalo’s bulletproof vest.

Fort Lauderdale Police said in the news release Thursday that they believe DiCristofalo was shot multiple times. He had serious injuries but was expected to recover. The police department said about 5 p.m. that same day that the injured officer had been released from the hospital.

France was minorly injured in the encounter but was not shot, the police department said.

Chludinsky’s cause of death is part of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s active investigation, Fort Lauderdale Police said. The three officers who shot at Chludinsky, all assigned to the Patrol Division, are on administrative leave with pay, as is the department’s standard policy.

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