1.26.2011

Fla. officer deaths cap deadly 24 hours for police

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The slaying of two police officers as they helped serve a warrant stunned a state already mourning police deaths in Miami and capped a bloody 24 hours nationwide that saw 11 officers shot in five states.

"That's not normal," said Steven Groeninger, a spokesman for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks police deaths. Two of the 11 shot between Sunday and Monday have died.

They were St. Petersburg Police Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, gunned down Monday while helping other officers serve a warrant on a man with a long criminal history.

When it was over, Baitinger and Yaslowitz were dead and Lacy — the brother of Jeff Lacy, former International Boxing Federation super middleweight champion — lay dead as well, either by his own hand or police bullets. A U.S. marshal whose name was not released was shot twice but was doing fine, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Tom Figmik said.

Officials said Lacy had a long record, with convictions for armed robbery and sexual battery. That suspect was killed by another detective.

Those officers were remembered Monday at a funeral where news of the St. Petersburg shootings added to the grief already palpable among the thousands gathered at AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said the 14 January deaths came after a "devastating spike" in law enforcement deaths last year, when 162 officers were killed in the line of duty, up from 117 in 2009. Of the 162 officers, 61 were shot, an increase of 24 percent from 2009.

On Sunday, a man opened fire inside a Detroit police precinct, wounding four officers including a commander before he was shot and killed by police. The officers' injuries were not considered life-threatening, Police Chief Ralph Godbee said.

Police officers in both Indianapolis and Lincoln City, Ore., were critically injured in shootings during traffic stops.

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