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Monday, June 18, 2007

Palatka police kill man after 3-hour standoff

6-17-2007 Florida: (See UPDATE)
PALATKA - Most neighbors at the James A. Long Apartment Complex in Palatka were awoken to the sound of a barrage of gunfire early Saturday morning. The other neighbors say they will remember what they saw for the rest of their lives.

Witnesses say there were 40 or 50 people standing outside around 3 a.m. watching as a 19-year-old man was shot to death by police at the end of a three-hour hostage situation. In the first fatal shooting by Palatka police since 2003, Lawrence Michael Floyd, 19, was killed after authorities said he shot his estranged girlfriend, a police officer and a 10-year-old boy. Floyd also used two children, ages 1 and 6, as hostages, police said.

No other injuries were life-threatening.

Here's what police said happened:

The Palatka 19-year-old, a registered sex offender on probation, abducted his unidentified girlfriend during an argument just before midnight from the apartments in the 2100 block of Olive Street, leading police on a several-mile pursuit using two stolen vehicles.

Floyd dragged his girlfriend from her apartment at gunpoint and carjacked a vehicle. Police spotted him several miles away outside a house in San Mateo. When the police approached him, he used his girlfriend as a shield and fired at a deputy with his .38 revolver. The deputy took cover as Floyd forced the woman back in the car and drove back toward Palatka.

Officers tried to stop Floyd as he entered Palatka, but he kept firing at police. Floyd finally had to stop because of a passing train at a railroad crossing. He abandoned the car and carjacked another vehicle, still with the woman at gunpoint, and drove back to the apartment complex.

Floyd ran into an occupied apartment, firing his gun at officers as he held the woman and ran through the back door. Police said they could not return fire because young children were in the apartment. Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy David Ussery was shot, but was wearing a bulletproof vest and was not injured. A 10-year-old boy also was hit in the leg during the gunfire.

Floyd ran through the complex and barricaded himself in another apartment with his girlfriend and two children, 1 and 6 years old, as hostages. Officers from the Police Department, Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol were all called in to secure the area during the standoff.

Police got a number from a relative for Floyd and called him on his cell phone to negotiate. Eventually Floyd released the children unharmed but stayed in the apartment two more hours.

Around 3 a.m. Floyd left the apartment, pointing a gun at his girlfriend. Officers asked him to put down the weapon and he refused, shooting her in the torso, causing several officers to fire on him, killing him at the scene.

At least 10 witnesses at the scene said they heard at least 30 shots fired from what sounded like automatic weapons. Some witnesses said Floyd shot only once while others said police fired first.

James Griffith, assistant chief of the Palatka Police Department, said Floyd fired at least seven times during the evening.

Ethel Ware, a 41-year-old resident of the apartment complex, said she saw the entire shooting and even tried to warn police about the suspect as he left an apartment to got to the one where he would barricade himself. She said she saw him walk by with the girlfriend in his arms and said, "You better not say a word." She said she pointed him out, but patrol officers drove by.

Ware said she heard police fire, stop, and then fire again at the suspect. After it was over, she said so much smoke filled the area "it looked like there was a fire over there."

Jammie Cooks, 19, who said he saw the shooting and went to school with Floyd, said so many people were watching the standoff that some neighbors even got out blankets and sat on their lawns. He said he heard family members talk to Floyd on the phone at the scene, asking for him to come out, promising he wouldn't be shot at.

Both Cooks and Ware, along with at least 20 other residents in the complex, said they thought police overreacted and shot too many times at Floyd.

"It was totally unnecessary. They didn't need to shoot that many times. All he had was a revolver," Ware said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting an investigation into the officer-involved shooting. Griffith said it hasn't been determined yet which officers shot Floyd because several officers fired.

Floyd was convicted April 16 in Putnam County of lewd or lascivious molestation of a victim younger than 12 years old by an offender 18 years or older. He was put on 10 years' probation for each of two molestation counts, according to a Florida Department of Corrections Web site.

Floyd's probation was a result of a plea deal, said Assistant State Attorney Robin Strickler, the supervising prosecutor in Putnam County. He said the child victim in the case was a runaway whom prosecutors couldn't produce at trial, leaving them with a weaker case.

Strickler said the sentence included a judge's order that Floyd would be under GPS monitoring to track his movements.

Putnam County Sheriff Dean Kelly did not return calls for comment Saturday. ..more.. by ADAM AASEN, The Times-Union


Officers Cleared in Fatal Shooting in Palatka
10-19-2007 Florida:

PALATKA, FL -- Seven officers involved in the fatal shooting of a convicted sex offender during a 2-day crime spree and standoff have been cleared by the State Attorney's office.

19-year-old Lawrence Michael Floyd had holed himself up in the doorway of the James Long Apartments, using his ex-girlfriend as a shield when police officers shot and killed him.

Authorities say Floyd refused numerous requests to surrender.

The State Attorney's office looked at all the reports and video of the standoff to make its ruling.

Investigators said Floyd carjacked two cars and exchanged gunfire with deputies in the hours before the deadly standoff. One deputy got hit, fortunately he had bulletproof vest on. ..more.. by First Coast News

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