A 13-year-old boy with a criminal history was identified Thursday as the suspect who shot a Florida police officer in the foot during a chase.
The teenager was shot dead by other officers in Lakeland in response, authorities said.
Lakeland Police Officer Jamie Smith heard a gunshot while investigating a separate call in the area around 5:15 p.m., Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters.
When Smith found a suspicious vehicle, he tried to stop it, but the driver fled.
Three people – Jermaine Julian, 13, 14 and 19, a suspected gang member – were inside the vehicle, authorities said.
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“I don’t care if they’re 14, 13 or 19 chronologically. They were looking for someone to kill. It doesn’t make a difference,” Judd said. “If you’re old enough to hold a gun and point it at a cop and pull the trigger, you’re old enough to get shot or go to jail.”
The chase ended and Smith began chasing after the 13-year-old, who allegedly had a gun. At one point, the teenager shot Smith in the foot, police said.
When responding officers arrived, the teenager reportedly engaged in a “shootout” with police and was shot multiple times.
He was taken to hospital with leg injuries that are not life-threatening. The teenager accused of shooting Smith was arrested in January for allegedly carrying a stolen weapon during a burglary.
He was charged with several crimes and placed on probation for this incident.
“We don’t want him on the street,” Polk’s sheriff said. “It’s only a matter of time before he hits somebody, and just by the grace of God he didn’t hit anybody with the drive-by this afternoon. But it’s a Serious matter. He got into adult criminal activity, and we’re ‘I’m going to treat him like an adult, committing violent, criminal activity.”
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Judd further criticized legal gun owners who leave their guns in unlocked vehicles and other easily accessible spaces.
“They’re burglars. They shoot into neighborhoods and shoot officers with your gun because you’re not responsible,” he said. “They’ll shoot you with your gun as well as they’ll get out of your car if they get the chance.”