Massive South Florida manhunt launched for officer's killer
CUTLER BAY, Fla. (AP) -- A gunman opened fire with a high-powered weapon on four Miami-Dade County police officers during a traffic stop Thursday, killing one of them and injuring the other three before getting away.
Officers from departments across South Florida were conducting a massive search for the suspect, who investigators identified as Shawn Sherwin Labeet, 25.
"We will be working around the clock, 24 hours, seven days a week, however long it takes, until we find Shawn Sherwin Labeet, and we apprehend him and take him into custody," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
Alvarez, a former county police director, identified the dead officer as Jose Somohano, 37, a married father of two. Another officer, Jody Wright, 31, underwent several hours of surgery to repair her severely injured leg. The other two officers were treated and released.
The officers had been conducting a burglary surveillance when they stopped Labeet because he was driving erratically, police spokeswoman Linda O'Brien said. Without warning he opened fire. It was not immediately clear if the officers returned fire.
Labeet, who may have been wearing a bulletproof vest, fled in his car, which was found abandoned five miles away, officials said. An AK-47 assault rifle was found inside, Alvarez said. It wasn't immediately known if it was the weapon used in the shooting.
Labeet's girlfriend was questioned, but she gave officers the name of another man, Alvarez said. That caused investigators to waste several hours looking for the other man before he came forward hundreds of miles away in Jacksonville after hearing that he was wanted. He was not involved in the case.
"I'm sure she'll be facing some charges," Alvarez said. Police declined to give further details on her involvement.
In the hours after the shootings, dozens of officers descended on the area. They could be seen drawing their guns as they briefly surrounded a house and then moved on. They also searched through a garbage truck as others scoured a grassy area on foot. Police were stopping vehicles in the area and searching through them. A federal government helicopter buzzed overhead.
Authorities said it was incomprehensible that four of their colleagues had been targeted.
"You say that it is not true," said Robert Parker, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department. "You doubt it for a second or two."
Alvarez said numerous agencies were assisting in the search for the suspect.
"We need the community's assistance in trying to locate this extremely dangerous individual who's still on the loose," he said.
Cutler Bay is a suburb southwest of downtown Miami. Several schools in the area were locked down due to the search. Parts of Florida's Turnpike were briefly shut down.
Residents of the apartment complex where the shootings took place were not being allowed into their homes. The street leading to the Sea Pines Apartments was cordoned off and was lined with police and media vehicles. At least a dozen residents stood in the heat, waiting to get back into their blocked off homes.
"It's a pretty good neighborhood. I never see the police at nobody's house. This is something that just happened," said Mae Haynes, 61, who lives at the complex.
The attacks Thursday followed the separate shootings of two sheriff's deputies last month in Broward. One was killed and officials are still looking for suspects. The other deputy was badly injured and the accused shooter is in jail in the case.
There is a reward of $200,000 for any information leading to Labeet's arrest.
If you have any information on this suspects whereabouts, call Miami-Dade County Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)