Wednesday, March 4, 2015

3/4/12 - Two Lake Wales Police officers shot after being lured to scene

Two Lake Wales Police officers shot after being lured to scene


Two Lake Wales police officers were shot near 743 Hillside Ave. Both officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were released from the hospital early Wednesday morning.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office says the incident happened around 5:55 p.m. when Lake Wales resident, 59-year-old John Goepferich, called police and said he needed assistance.

When officers arrived on scene, Goepferich shot at them immediately, deputies say. Officers returned fire and a gunfight ensued. 
All available Lake Wales officers and Polk County deputies responded to the active shooter scene.

The two Lake Wales officers shot during the gun battle are K-9 handler John Schwarze, 45, and Benjamin Metz, 38. Swhwarze has been with the department for 5 years. Metz has been with the department for the last 11 months but previously served the LWPD for more than 11 years.
"By the grace of God, these officers are alive," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
The suspect, Goepferich, was also shot. His injuries are also non-life threatening.
Neighbors said they heard gunfire and saw officers running with guns drawn. 

Jennifer Barrs just moved into the neighborhood a few days ago, and ushered her kids - including a baby under a year old - into a closet.

"We stayed in the closet about half an hour til I decided, got brave enough to open it up," she said.

Alex Snyder said his neighbor had seemed docile in the past.

"He comes out and drives his little RC car down the road," Snyder said. "He loves his dogs and his children and I've never seen him in a foul mood."
But on Tuesday, Snyder said he saw his neighbor in a bush, firing at officers.

The suspect and both officers were taken to local hospitals.

Investigators were on scene late into the evening, with a forensic unit on site and crime scene tape around the house. 

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