Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Public safety

Police: Tampa officer shot, wounded while serving arrest warrant

TAMPA — Two Tampa police officers went early Monday to arrest a man on a warrant that accused him of illegally owning guns and threatening his family.

They didn’t know that Walter Richard Jeziorski III had in his home an assault rifle, a pistol and 300 rounds of ammunition.

By the time police left, an officer had been shot in the arm.

"It was very lucky for our officers that they didn’t come out of this situation in a much worse way," Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said.

Officers Richard Lehr and Leigh Smith went to Jeziorski’s home about 1:40 a.m. at the Hubert Avenue Villa Apartments at 4605 N Hubert Ave.

Jeziorski, 35, was wanted on three charges of making written threats, making harassing phone calls and possessing a firearm after an injunction.

He met the officers. They spoke with him briefly.

Then, police said, he pulled a handgun. He fired at the officers at least seven times, police said.

Both officers fired back as they stumbled away from the small single-story building. Smith sprained an ankle in the retreat. Lehr was shot in the arm and also injured a leg. The two were taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital and later released.

A short standoff followed as other officers arrived to surround the apartment complex.

Inside, Jeziorski phoned his mother.

"She was able to put a stop to this," Dugan said.

What she said is unclear, but Jeziorski laid down his guns — a 7.62mm assault rifle and a 9mm pistol — and surrendered just after 2 a.m.

He faces two charges of attempted second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.

Police said Jeziorski had six 30-round magazines for the rifle and four 30-round magazines for the pistol. How he got the weapons is unclear, but he may have stolen at least one from a family member, Dugan said.

Court records show Jeziorski has repeatedly been the subject of restraining orders filed by family members and others.

Most recently, on Jan. 22, Shelley Edwards submitted a handwritten petition for an injunction for protection against her brother. She said Jeziorski had been leaving her vulgar and threatening phone messages.

"He has guns and a history of violence," she wrote. "I’ve had an injunction on him in the past.

"Yesterday he began threatening to come over in the middle of the night because ‘no cops will be posted in front of the house then,’?" she wrote. He told her she should stay in a hotel because he was coming to her house.

Edwards wrote that her brother has twice broken her father’s ribs.

The injunction notes Jeziorski has previously been held under the state’s Baker Act.

His father, Walter Jeziorski Jr., declined to comment in detail when reached by phone Monday afternoon.

"All I can tell you is we’re glad the cop is okay," he said. "We’re praying for our son. He has emotional problems."

Lehr and Smith are both assigned to the Tampa Police Department’s Street Anti-Crime unit. Lehr has been with the agency 10 years; Smith for three.

   
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