January 24, 2011 / 3:23 PM / 7 years ago

Gunman holed up in home kills two Florida policemen

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Reuters) - A fugitive barricaded inside a house shot and killed two police officers and wounded a U.S. Marshal on Monday in a barrage of gunfire in St. Petersburg, Florida, authorities said.

After the intense gun battle which involved more than 100 shots fired, police later used heavy equipment to demolish the house and found the suspect dead inside. It was not clear if he was shot dead by police or committed suicide.

Police earlier sent in an armored vehicle to break through the walls of the residence so one of the officers who was shot could be rescued and taken to the hospital.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Police Chief Chuck Harmon told a news conference the policemen died of gunshot wounds sustained while trying to serve a warrant on the man.

The slain officers, both veterans, were the first killed while on active duty in the city in more than 30 years, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

“It’s a dark day for the city of St. Petersburg,” Mayor Foster said. “Two of our officers made the supreme sacrifice.”

The two slain officers were identified by Harmon as Tom Baitinger, 48, and Jeffrey Yaslowitz, 39. Both were married and Yaslowitz had three children.

Yaslowitz was with the canine unit, but left his police dog in his car when he went into the house.

“Tom and Jeff were doing what they loved best. They served the people of this community with distinction,” Foster said.

The suspect, whom police said had an extensive criminal record and was wanted on an aggravated battery charge, was tentatively named as Hydra Lacy, Jr., 39, of St. Petersburg.

The U.S. Marshal, who suffered two gunshot wounds, was in stable condition.

The shooting in St. Petersburg occurred on the day of the funeral in Miami of two Miami-Dade County police officers who were shot and killed by a fugitive murder suspect last week. The fugitive was also killed.

Reporting by Robert Green; editing by Tom Brown and Greg McCune

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