Mayor: Lacy pretended to surrender before officers' deaths

ST. PETERSBURG — Hydra Lacy Jr. was lying on his stomach with his arms out as if he was about to surrender in the moments before the Jan. 24 gun battle that left two police officers dead, Mayor Bill Foster said in a television interview Monday night.

But it was a ruse. Lacy gave the "impression" that he was obeying the arresting officers before he ambushed them with a hidden gun in the attic, Foster said.

Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger and canine Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz were killed and Deputy U.S. Marshal Scott Ley was wounded in the ensuing two-hour gunfight. Police laid siege to Lacy's home with armored vehicles and nearly destroyed it until his body found was found hours later.

"They did it right," Foster told WTVT-Ch. 13 about the arresting officers. "They had made contact with Lacy. They had compliance. They used mirrors and flashlights (to search the attic). They didn't willy-nilly go into an attic to put themselves in harm's way."

It would have been easy for the suspect to conceal a handgun in the dark attic, the mayor said. The station also reported that Foster told them Lacy was hit by a shot from a Taser about the time he feigned his surrender; and that Lacy was later shot seven times by police gunfire. No official cause of death has been released, but Lacy's family said they believe he bled to death from at least two police gunshots.

Foster did not return repeated calls from the St. Petersburg Times seeking comments.

Yaslowitz and Ley were shot as they tried to arrest Lacy in the attic about 7:29 that morning, police said. Lacy had been wanted since missing his November trial for aggravated battery.

Baitinger was fatally wounded minutes later during a rescue mission to free the injured marshal. Yaslowitz was rescued two hours later when an armored vehicle and SWAT team stormed the house and fired up to 200 rounds at the suspect.

Both officers were pronounced dead at a hospital.

St. Petersburg police officials have declined to release more details about the incident until the State Attorney's Office investigation is complete. Police Chief Chuck Harmon said he could not comment on the mayor's account of the arrest attempt.

"I've heard different stories about what transpired," he said. "But I'll reserve judgment until all the facts are in, like I would do in any other case."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Mayor: Lacy pretended to surrender before officers' deaths 02/07/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 8:00am]

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