Just four days after the cluster killing of two Miami-Dade (FL) law enforcement officers, a violent attack struck yet another Florida police force, tragically taking the lives of St. Petersburg (FL) Sergeant Tom Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz.
"On behalf of the City of Tampa, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the officers, the larger family of the St. Petersburg Police Department, and to all the citizens of our sister city," Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said.
The violent gunfire that erupted on Monday January 24, 2011, followed a sequence of shootings in the 24 hours prior, in which 11 peace officers were shot in five different states. Sergeant Baitinger and Officer Yaslowitz, along with a team of agents, dispatched to a St. Petersburg residence to serve a felony arrest warrant
When officials arrived at the scene, the gunman was barricaded inside the attic of the home, and refused to appear despite pleading by officers. While Sergeant Baitinger remained on the main level to survey and to provide coverage, Officer Yaslowitz and a U.S. Marshal’s deputy entered the attic and were gunned down instantly. The suspect fired again from the attic below and struck Sergeant Baitinger.
All three wounded lawmen were transported to a nearby hospital, where the Marshal’s deputy was treated for injuries and remained in stable condition. Regrettably, Sergeant Baitinger, 48, and Officer Yaslowitz, 39, succumbed to their fatal gunshot wounds. The alleged gunman died following the shootout.
The St. Petersburg fatalities are the fourth and fifth for Florida — leading all 50 states in officer deaths, followed by Texas and Ohio — in the first month of 2011. Sergeant Baitinger and Officer Yaslowitz are two of the 14 total fatalities and join the list of officers killed by gunfire, which has now reached 11 thus far in 2011. These lawmen are also the ninth and tenth St. Petersburg (FL) officers killed by gunfire in the department’s recorded history.
The 15-year veteran Sergeant Baitinger is survived by his wife. Officer Yaslowitz spent 12 years on the force and is survived by his wife and three children.
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