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'War On Cops' Continues: Third St. Pete Officer Killed

'War On Cops' Continues: Third St. Pete Officer Killed

Tampa Bay Tribune via YellowBrix

February 22, 2011

Harris said he was taken to headquarters and questioned. A cell phone video of the officer being loaded into an ambulance was taken by police, he said.

“What has this world come to?” Harris said in a subsequent e-mail to The Tampa Tribune. He said he was listening to a police helicopter overhead searching for the suspect.

“Every time I hear the sound of that helicopter, it sends chills down my spine and gives me the goose bumps like no other,” he said. "To know that one of our city’s finest is dead for doing his … job is too much for words to explain.

“My neighbor and I witnessed the shooting this evening pretty much in our front yard,” Harris said. "Both him and I could barely hold back the tears because we both have a family that comes from law enforcement.

“When I saw that officer … laying on the corner bleeding to death, I didn’t just see a random officer there,” he said. “I saw my father there laying on the ground bleeding to death.”

Justin Matejcik, 32, who lives on Third Avenue South within sight of the shooting scene, said he was asleep when he heard what sounded like a heated argument. Then, he said, he heard a series of gunshots and someone in distress yelling for help.

Police initially received a call of a suspicious person or prowler who was in the 700 block of Third Avenue South. The caller told police the suspect had a brick in his hand and they feared he might use it to break in to a building to commit a burglary.

The caller described the suspect as a black male who was 18 to 20 years old and wearing a black hoodie, Harmon said.

The suspect may have lost one of his shoes leaving the scene, police spokesman Mike Puetz said. Details on the type of shoe were not immediately available.

Officer Donald Ziglar arrived about 10:34 p.m. and seconds later Crawford pulled up, Harmon said.

Crawford confronted a suspect at Second Avenue South and Eighth Street South and was shot multiple times. He returned fire but the suspect was able to run away.

It’s not clear whether the suspect was shot, Puetz said.

“This is where a search in daylight hours will be a little more thorough,” he said. “A cursory search does not show any positive signs that that took place.”

At 10:37 p.m., police received a report that an officer had been shot.

Crawford was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead hours after the shooting. Ziglar wasn’t shot or injured. Investigators were interviewing him early Tuesday morning, Harmon said.

Harmon said he had little detail on the suspect. But he urged residents to call (727) 893-7780 if they saw something or someone suspicious.

The shooting comes on the heels of the deaths of Baitinger, 48, and Yaslowitz, 39. Fugitive Hydra Lacy Jr. shot them and wounded a deputy U.S. marshal as authorities tried to capture him in a south St. Petersburg home. Lacy died in the standoff.

Foster asked residents to pray for the Crawford, his family and all the officers on the force.

“We’re still healing from the first tragedy, and it’s going to take some time,” he said. “We’ve been nicked again, but these men and women are strong,” he said. “And they’re pros. And they’re back on the street protecting our citizens.”

Throughout the night and morning, police officers in uniform and plainclothes gathered at the hospital. Unlike last month when Baitinger and Yaslowitz were shot – and there was no armed man on the loose – there is no parade of officers showing up at the hospital.

Just after 6 a.m., the van from the medical examiner’s office arrived.

Blue and red police lights flash through the fog in the distance as many streets in the area continue to be shut down. About two dozen police officers, some in uniform and others plainclothes, lined up outside the hospital as the body was taken to the medical examiner’s office.

They offered a salute to the officer as his body was taken away in the van. A police cruiser escorted the van from the scene.

More than a dozen squad cars lined the streets around the hospital on this fog-shrouded morning and downtown St. Petersburg is an armed camp.

One officer leaving the hospital declined comment, but the mood of the morning was etched clearly on his face.

“We live in a fallen world,” he said before quietly walking away.

Chris Werner manages the Tropical Smoothie Cafe across the street from the hospital and was late getting to work this morning because of all the road closures in the area.

He was shocked at the news that another officer had been killed.

“It’s unreal to think that could happen again,” Werner said. “The fact that someone would take a life like that shows they are not afraid of anything. It’s scary.”

Werner lives on the south side of town where both incidents occurred.

“Last time was kind of haunting, too,” he said. “I’m considering moving out of the neighborhood.”

St. Petersburg police car 2712, driven by Crawford, is still parked at Third Avenue South and Eighth Street South, in front of the AAA Plaza.

Law enforcement has set up a staging area in a lot on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and First Avenue South. Police, Pinellas deputies and the FBI are fanning out from there, looking for a suspect.

The search is concentrated in the Campbell Park area, roughly Fourth Street South to 16th Street South and Fourth Avenue South to 15th Avenue South, near Tropicana Field, police said.

Campbell Park, at 16th Street South and Seventh Avenue South, had been cordoned off. Officers patrolled the area carrying rifles and walking with K-9 units. Roads also were closed.

Interstate signs warned motorists of police activity near Tropicana Field and to avoid the area.

Residents in the neighborhood have been advised to stay inside with their doors locked.

Nine officers in Florida have been killed in the line of duty this year – as many as all of last year, according to The Officer Down Memorial Page website. Monday’s shooting marks the 29th officer to die in the line of duty this year, compared with 162 last year.

  • Me_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Ok, maybe it's me cuz my kid says I'm an a**hole of a parent but this kid was 16 years old. First of all, what was he doing out at 10:30 at night unsupervised by his parent or another adult and secondly what the HELL was he doing with a gun?? if my kid was out at 10:30 at night, i'd beat her ass and then beat the ass of the CYS worker that showed up at my door after she complained about it. And if one of my guns was missing, I'd find my kid and get the gun back!! This is BS and the parents are just as responsible as the kid. Try them all as adults. Do the crime, do the time ya little bastard!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago



  • Me_max50


    over 3 years ago


    DAMN...another officer tasked with guarding the Pearly Gates. God, please don't take any more officers when we need them down here. RIP Officer Crawford and my prayers go with you and your family that they will make it through this. Prayers also to your brothers and sister in the St Pete Police Department who have had to live through this again after losing two officers less than a month ago. I hope they find the suspect soon and give him his just reward...A one way ticket to meet Satan!!!! Rest in Peace my brother.

  • L_9751489511524fa8a45242cc068fdf3f_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP fallen officers.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago

    God bless....RIP sir.

  • Police_cartoon_max50


    over 3 years ago


    God bless you for your years of service and rest in peace brother. Wow, What the hell is going on in this country right now?! Not only do we have our regular subjects to deal with that pose a risk but now we're being targeted by these worthless scumbags. To top it off we have scum politicians that are making us out to be the group of employees in the country and they claim we have "A Golden Ticket" (N.J. Gov. Christie) because we have medical benefits a and a pension. In Jersey we've become the public enemy thanks to this clown who's trying to take away any incentive this job has to offer. Sorry for the rant but we don't make 34 Million for a 3 year contract and we're being targeted and killed at an alarming rate and we don't even have public support thanks to crooked politicians like him who were picked on as kids and issued lots of tickets as an adult. The trend is scary

  • Don_cesar_04_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Unfortunately the officer was not wearing a vest. It's a sad comment on our society when we have to say that our law enforcement officers can no longer do their jobs without wearing a vest at all times, however, I believe it has come to that. There is no longer a respect for elders, teachers, law enforcement and adults in general, let alone anyone in authority.

    May God continue to protect those who selflessly protect and serve society.

  • Joel


    over 3 years ago


    RIP, my brother, Officer Crawford..... your courageous actions and dedication to duty will not be forgotten, you will never be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Crawford's family and friends.

    As a nation, we NEED to come together, stand together, and vow together that we have had enough of this, and find a way to put a stop to these types of crimes, and to stop these types of criminals, once and for all-
    This offender, and others who are of similar age, need to be charged as an ADULT, the same as if a person over the age of 18 committed a similar crime. This was a deliberate and thought-out crime, and needs to be dealt with by deliberate and final punishment. Many states will charge a 16-year-old who commits a deliberate murder as an adult. I believe Florida residents need to get together and propose a similar new law in Florida.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    It is a sad time for the St. Petersburg Police Department. As a former Police Explorer with the St. Petersburg Police Department it has hit closer to home as I had developed a great relationship with some of the officers on the department. It pains me to see them deal with such a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with them in these tough times.

    As a side note that is not mentioned in this article. Last night it was reported that the 16 year old male that shot and killed Officer Crawford had been arrested.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    I pray for him and his family! May he R.I.P. Tampa area has had 10 LEO's killed since 2001. What is going on?
    It's become a killing field down there. We need to do something. But what?He had a vest but didn't have it on.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Brother Crawford. Our thoughts and prayers go out ot his family, his fellow officers and the St. Petersburg PD. Be safe.

  • Officer_w_pavey_max50


    over 3 years ago


    My deepest condolences go out to Officer Crawford's family, to his friends, and to all the members of the St. Petersburg Police Department. There is currently an ongoing crisis that is occuring in our country. Police Officers are not respected anymore. You have citizens out here that think the police get paid to much. They don't realize that the "Thin Blue Line" keeps them away from total mayhelm. To all the officers out there, please keep alert. Be safe and God bless you.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    MOTOR141: It's not so much the administrations as it is the lawyers they fear. I think it's time that lawyers are required to spend one weekend a month in a patrol car with the officers in a busy district and see all the ugliness the officers have to deal with. Not just the threats to our lives, but the threats to our mental sanity with the abused, neglected, disposed of children, the strung out, homless abused people who have been left behind by society, etc...

  • Kay_and_i_at_senior_move_up_day_max50


    over 3 years ago


    This country needs to take the streets back from criminals. Police are underpaid. I know, I was there. It is awful that this government does not empathize the need for qualified police officers and the daily chances that we take. The pay for officers should be just as much as a football player.

    I pray for my fallen brother and his family and for all my brothers in law enforcement. May GOD bless.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Hey guys and gals maybe administrations will quit being
    So DAMN CITIZEN FRIENDLY and let us deal with the trash
    As it is needed WITH FORCE.
    Do we become a country that tolerates officers being killed,
    as if whe lived in Iraq or Afghanistan. It's time for it to stop.
    My heart goes out to my fallen brother and his family, RIP BROTHER.

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