jueves, 29 de agosto de 2013

Deputy and hotel guest injured in Oakland Park - Sun-Sentinel

In the darkness of a hotel parking lot, the fugitive task force moved quickly to stop the black pickup with the murder suspect riding inside.

Only their fugitive wasn't in the truck.

Instead, Henry Kiner, 27, was dressed in camouflage and perched on the hotel's second floor, where he used a shotgun to blast away at the unsuspecting task force members below, officials said.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel called it an "ambush" that backfired when officers and deputies fired back toward the hotel, killing Kiner just outside Room 212 of the Days Inn in Oakland Park early Wednesday.

When it was over, Kiner's body was belly down in the hotel's hallway — a shotgun by his side along with the glass from shattered windows. A hotel guest who had been sleeping in a room nearby suffered a gunshot wound to his arm. And a deputy hurt his shoulder when he dived for cover, officials said.

The shootout, which started shortly after midnight and ended in an instant, left other hotel guests shaken.

"It was a terrifying experience," said Eric Cooper, 39, a Bahamian tourist who warned his family to get down in their room when the gunfire outside woke them up.

Another guest, Renee Jenkins, took refuge in a bathtub. "If I had been standing on that second floor, I'd probably been dead," she said.

Two years ago, Kiner finished a five-year prison term for armed robbery, state records show. The Fort Lauderdale man had recently told his mother "there was no way" he was going back to prison, Israel said.

"This was a young man who lived a violent life," Israel said.

The events began late Tuesday when task force members started tracking Kiner in the Melrose Park neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, officials said.

They were pursuing him because Kiner was a suspect in the killing of a 26-year-old Deerfield Beach man, Corey Pratter, who was gunned down Aug. 11 at a Fort Lauderdale intersection, police said.

Tuesday, as task force members followed Kiner, he somehow gave them the slip, officials said. In a black Dodge pickup, Kiner reached the Days Inn at 1595 W. Oakland Park Blvd. and checked into the hotel.

After midnight, the task force caught up to the pickup and saw the vehicle was trying to leave the hotel property. Suspecting that Kiner was inside the truck with another man, the task force blocked the vehicle as it drove away.

That is when the shotgun blasts began raining from above, Israel said. Although Kiner opened fire, "divine intervention" protected the task force, comprised of Broward sheriff's deputies, a Fort Lauderdale police officer and members of the U.S. Marshal's Office, Israel said.

"They faced the gravest of situations," the sheriff said. "The law enforcement family is very, very fortunate that none of these brave men were hurt."

Israel defended the task force's actions of shooting toward the hotel, possibly putting other guests in danger. "They were not shooting into a hotel, they were not shooting into a room," Israel said. "They were shooting at an armed felon with a shotgun who was shooting at them."

Israel added: "Certainly, this man firing a shotgun could've missed and hit anybody driving up or down Oakland Park Boulevard at that time."

Jenkins, the hotel guest, was smoking a cigarette outside her room when the gunshots began. Gunshots that sounded "like a cannon" prompted her to run inside and rely on the bathtub for shelter, she said.

"I'm like, 'Oh, my God,'" Jenkins recalled. "Police everywhere."

Officials arrested the driver of the truck, Junior Fletcher, 28, on a possession of marijuana charge. They still were trying to determine what role, if any, Fletcher played in the shootout.

Following the shooting, more than a dozen spent bullet casings covered part of Oakland Park Boulevard and the hotel's parking lot. Investigators shut down the busy roadway for nearly 12 hours, forcing drivers to find alternate routes for their work commute.

The injured deputy, who was not shot, was treated and released. Meanwhile, the wounded hotel guest, identified as Daniel Forrest, remained hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley said Kiner was responsible for Pratter's death, but declined to elaborate, citing an open investigation.

Pratter's mother, Annie Lucas, said she believes her son was targeted for his flashy, gold chain. Fliers that were circulated to help identify Pratter's killer featured a photo of Pratter wearing the large thick chain with a crucifix pendant.

Lucas said hearing of Kiner's death made her somewhat sad Wednesday. But she said she also felt a sense of closure.

"A burden has been lifted from my heart to know his killer has been caught," she said. "Justice has been done."

Staff photographer Joe Cavaretta contributed to this report.

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