ST. PETERSBURG — Several local law enforcement officers were honored Friday for their bravery in the line of duty more than two years ago.
Seven officers received the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery for their involvement in the Jan. 24, 2011 St. Petersburg police shootout that resulted in the death of Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger and K-9 Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz. The award, given by the U.S. Office of Justice Programs, recognizes officers who have shown bravery and either sustained injuries or risked injury in the line of duty.
"They demonstrated uncommon valor, selfless sacrifice, resolute bravery, devotion to duty and tremendous courage under fire," St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said of the honorees.
The recipients include U.S. Deputy Marshal Scott Ley, who was injured in the shootout, St. Petersburg Sgt. Karl D. Lounge Jr. and St. Petersburg Officers Timothy McClintick, Max McDonald and Douglas Weaver. Awards were also given posthumously to Baitinger and Yaslowitz. The audience of about 300 gave a standing ovation as the fallen officers' family members accepted the awards on their behalf.
"It means a lot as the recognition keeps spreading and the honor of these men and women and what they do, day in and day out," Yaslowitz's wife, Lorraine, said after the ceremony. "For our family especially, it means that Jeff will never be forgotten."
Lorraine Yaslowitz accepted the award alongside her children, Caleb, Calen and Haylie.
Baitinger's parents, Ken and Lu, and sister, Amy, traveled from Wisconsin for the ceremony.
On that morning in 2011, officers arrived at a St. Petersburg house, trying to locate a violent fugitive. The fugitive's wife indicated that he was in the attic. When Ley and Yaslowitz went into the attic, the fugitive opened fire. McClintick treated Ley, who had fallen out of the attic. Baitinger, Lounge, McDonald and Weaver comprised the Rapid Response Team that entered the house after hearing the call, "Shots fired, officers down."
The suspect, Hydra Lacy Jr., was also killed in the firefight.
The awards were presented by U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Kathy Castor and C.W. "Bill" Young at the St. Petersburg College Allstate Center.
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