Two People are Hurt in an Officer-Involved Shooting UPDATE

Updated 10:30am 7-7 by Vanessa Nguyen:

Sneads residents are still talking about the violence that disturbed the stillness of this normally peaceful town this weekend.

"Basically, it's a laid back community, it's a small community, you don't have a whole lot of excitement in Sneads," says resident Ed Wilkerson.

That changed around 8:30 Saturday morning when Sneads Police Officer Brett Preston pulled-over a car, driven by a female.

Her passenger, a 30-year-old Sneads man named Lawrence Curtis Baker jumped out of the car and ran.

Preston followed him in his patrol car.

"Officer Preston chased Baker in his car through this field after Baker took off running on-foot. At one point, the suspect even jumped onto a passing freight train."

At some point Baker allegedly began firing shots.

"Subsequently, some shots were fired into the patrol vehicle striking Officer Preston, he sustained 3-gunshot wounds."

He was shot in the arm, shoulder and hand.

"I was very sad to hear it was Officer Preston, he's a very good officer," says resident Lynn Phillips.

But Preston was able to return fire.

He hit Baker once in the stomach area.

Baker still managed to slip away.
But it was his uncle who helped convince Baker to turn himself in.

"Roughly one hour and 20 minutes after he shot Officer Preston he was taken into custody."

Both men were treated at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and have been released.

Preston went home, Baker went to jail.

Sneads Police Chief Burt McAlpin says he's bothered by the chain of events.

"16 years of law enforcement, I've never had an officer with more than a black eye or a busted lip. Yes, I'm bothered by this, I'm troubled by it."

Preston has been with the department for 4-years, receiving the Jackson County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award in 2007.

"He's very good to everybody, he goes out of his way to help anybody and everybody."

"He's a tough man, he's a tribute to Sneads and the town of Sneads, he's a great officer and we just have the utmost respect for him, he's a great guy."

Authorities still won't say if they've recovered the suspect's gun.

"Quite a few interviews that have to be completed and we still have a lot of evidence to process that's just been collected," says FDLE Resident Agent David Lee.

They also are refusing to comment on reports that Baker was holding the female driver against her will.

"We are looking into the whole matter as far as maybe what led to this situation," says Jackson County Sheriff Lou Roberts.

Baker is charged with Attempted Murder on a Law Enforcement Officer, Felony Possession of a Firearm and Violation of Probation.

Preston will remain on routine administrative leave until the investigation is completed.

"I know everybody in town is praying for Officer Preston, hoping he can get back to duty as quickly as possible because we'll miss him while he's gone."

Baker's being held in the Jackson County Jail on a $550,000 dollar bond.
And he could be facing more charges.
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UPDATED on 7.6.10 by Denise Wong

Sneads Officer Brett Preston is recuperating at home after getting shot in the hand, arm, and shoulder over the July 4th weekend. On Tuesday, authorities held a press conference in Sneads, but they were tight-lipped about what actually led up to the shooting and what they found out after.

"It is still early on in this investigation," says Lou Roberts, the Jackson County Sheriff.

What we do know is that around 8:30 Saturday morning, officer Preston stopped a vehicle on Highway 90 near the Apalachee Correctional Institute in Sneads. The passenger, Lawrence Baker, ran off.

"Subsequently, some shots were fired into the officer's vehicle, striking Officer Preston, causing injury to him. The officer returned gunfire on the suspect, striking him at least once," says Burt McAlpin, Sneads Police Chief.

Baker was struck in the abdomen. Authorities say it was his uncle who got him to surrender - less than two hours later.

Authorities describe Baker as a career criminal: a convicted felon who was on probation.
But authorities won't say why Officer Preston stopped the car to begin with. Or - if they've recovered the suspect's gun. And - they won't address reports that the woman driving was being held against her will.

"There's a lot more questions unanswered than answered at this time," says David Lee, with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "There's quite a few interviews that have to be completed and evidence that needs to be processed."

As for Officer Brett Preston's health?

"He's in great spirits and he's recovering well. But he's eager to get back to work," says Chief McAlpin.

Officer Preston is on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

Lawrence Baker is at the Jackson County Jail. At this point, he faces three charges including attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. As for Officer Preston - his boss says he's a tough man. The four-yer Sneads Police Department veteran was honored as Jackson County's "Law Enforcement Officer of the Year" back in 2007.

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UPDATED 7.6.2010 by Julie Montanaro

Sneads Police Chief Burt McAlpin has scheduled a press conference this afternoon to release more information on an exchange of gunfire between a Sneads Police officer and a fleeing suspect.

That press conference is scheduled for 2pm Central Time (3pm EST) at Sneads City Hall.

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UPDATED 7.5.2010 by Julie Montanaro

The Chief of Police in Sneads says that Officer Brett Preston has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.

Preston has been placed on administrative leave with pay until FDLE completes its investigation and the facts can be reviewed by the state attorney.

That is standard policy, Chief Burt McAlpin says, in any officer-involved shooting.

The suspect meanwhile, has been transported from the Leon County Jail back to Jackson County. The chief says Lawrence Baker is charged with attempted murder on a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and violation of his probation. He says more charges will be filed against Baker.

Chief McAlpin says officers have not yet recovered the gun used in the Saturday shooting, but they are still looking.

Officer Preston has been with the Sneads Police Department for approximately four years, the chief said.

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Updated by Saundra Weathers on 7/310 10:08 PM
This all started around 8:30 this morning, when a Sneads police officer pulled over a vehicle off Highway 90 near the Apalachee Correctional Institute. And now neighbors are responding.

"Nobody expected something like that. Not for a traffic violation," said Sneads, Florida resident, Nancy McKinnie. Her response was like many other Sneads residents when they learned, Police Officer Brett Preston, was shot during a traffic stop early Saturday morning. Authorities say 30-year-old Lawrence Baker shot him.

"I hate that this young man shot this police officer because his life's ruined because of this," said McKinnie.

Authorities say Baker was in the passenger seat of the car with a female driver. Once the car stopped Baker jumped out and fled into a nearby field. That's when Officer Preston chased Baker and was met by gunfire. Officer Preston suffered three gunshot wounds to his hand, arm and shoulder.

"He's a good guy when he got the call and responded to the scene he had to do what he had to do and what his job required him to do. Hopefully he will be okay," said Sneads, Florida resident, Pongue Jackson.

Baker was also shot in the abdomen during the pursuit. He eluded officers for hours by jumping onto a slow moving train. He later surrendered and was treated and released from the hospital and booked into the Leon County Jail and now people in this tight-knit community are fearful.

"They have a dangerous job and its getting more dangerous. I feel sorry for law enforcement because you never know when you pull up what's gonna confront you," said McKinnie.

Authorities say the investigation is still underway and they hope to provide some answers for this community.

Police combed the grassy area where the chase began. So far they haven't recovered the gun they say Baker in the shooting.

Baker is charged with attempted murder and more charges are expected.

Updated 7/3/10 5:27

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says the suspect has been released from the hospital and is now in the custody of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

The shooting is still under investigation and WCTV has a crew on scene. We'll have more at 11.
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A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
confirmed it happened off Highway 90 near the Apalachee Correctional Institute, when a Sneads police officer made a traffic stop.
Details are limited right now, but at some point, gunfire was exchanged with someone in the vehicle.

The officer, whose name has not yet been released, was taken to to a hospital. The suspect has also been transported to a hospital.


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