13-year-old ‘hardened criminal’ on probation shoots cop during gun battle: police
A 13-year-old boy described by authorities as a “hardened criminal” with “no regard for life” shot a police officer during a foot chase in Florida — and was wounded in the exchange of fire.
The gun battle unfolded after 5 p.m. Wednesday in the city of Lakeland as police officer Jamie Smith, formerly of the NYPD, was responding to a 911 call reporting a drive-by shooting a couple of blocks from Simpson Park.
Smith spotted the white Dodge Avenger mentioned on the call and pursued it in his patrol vehicle until the car stopped and three teens jumped out and took off running.
One of the suspects was seen brandishing a gun, Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor said during a press conference.
Smith, who has served on the force in Lakeland for two years after being recruited from New York, followed the armed suspect, later identified by the police chief as 13-year-old Wesley Dalmas.
Smith’s body camera video that was released overnight shows the cop running after Dalmas through the Carrington Place Apartments.
Smith repeatedly orders the teen to stop and drop his weapon, but Dalmas refuses to comply.
As the officer rounds a corner, he runs into Dalmas crouching in wait for him. The teen points his Taurus 9mm semi-automatic handgun and shoots at Smith three times, as seen in the bodycam footage.
Taylor said Smith was struck in the left foot and returned fire, but Dalmas managed to get away.
The wounded officer called for backup and continued the pursuit despite his injury.
Other officers who rushed to the scene caught up with Dalmas, who Taylor said tried to flee and opened fire on them.
During the gun battle, the 13-year-old was shot in the stomach, leg and thigh. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he was treated and released.
Smith was administered first aid by his colleagues and taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center to be treated for the gunshot wound and broken bones in his foot.
Taylor said he was expected to be released home in the coming days.
Taylor hailed his officer’s actions during the pursuit as “nothing short of heroic.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd also spoke at the press conference and revealed that Dalmas had been arrested back in January in connection with a car burglary, during which he stole a gun, reported the local outlet Lkldnow.com.
The youngster had been given probation instead of a prison sentence in that case, which Judd said he did not “appreciate.”
The sheriff said Dalmas and his two cohorts, who were on probation at the time of Wednesday’s incident, were smoking marijuana and driving around Lakeland “looking for someone to shoot.”
“He has no regard for life. None. Zero,” said Judd. “He may be 13 years old chronologically, but he’s a hardened criminal willing to shoot it out with cops.”
Authorities are asking prosecutors to charge him as an adult with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.
“He entered into adult criminal activity and we’re going to treat it like an adult doing violent felonious criminal activity,” Judd said.
Taylor said his detectives are working to determine whether Dalmas is a gang member or associate, saying there is “some indication” that the teen might have gang ties.
“He’s 13 years old. Unbelievable. What are we doing?” Taylor said. “A 13-year-old that has an arrest history and also has the fortitude and anger inside of him to point a handgun at a police officer, but not only point that handgun but take a shot at a police officer.”
Dalmas’ two alleged accomplices, Jermaine Julian, 19, and Leonard Speight Jr., 14, were also arrested.