Massive Search Underway For Cop Killer - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/29/06

Massive Search Underway For Cop Killer

Deputy Matthew Williams was killed by multiple shots, according to the sheriff's office. Deputy Matthew Williams was killed by multiple shots, according to the sheriff's office.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd: "If you try to hide him or move him, we'll put you in jail." Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd: "If you try to hide him or move him, we'll put you in jail."
Police released this picture of the suspect but could not verify his identity. Police released this picture of the suspect but could not verify his identity.

LAKELAND, Florida (CNN) -- Hundreds of police were swarming "through every square inch" of thickly overgrown Florida woods Friday as the manhunt intensified for an accused cop killer.

"I want to say to his friends, that if you try to hide him or move him, we'll put you in jail," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd at a Friday news conference in Lakeland.

"We're watching associates, we're watching their movements, we're watching people who we have linked to him all over the state of Florida at this time," he said.

Police insist they will not rest until they capture the man, whom they suspect of killing a sheriff's deputy and wounding another during a routine traffic stop. They think he is involved in a narcotics ring.

Deputy Vernon Matthew "Matt" Williams, a 12-year veteran of the department, and his police dog "Diogi" were shot to death, Judd said.

Deputy Doug Speirs was shot in the leg and is expected to make a full recovery. He was treated and released at a hospital.

'Significant' leads; suspect 'armed and dangerous'

"We've run dozens of leads through the night," Judd said. "He's armed, we know he's very dangerous." He said police have "significant investigative leads."

A high school is expected to be shut Friday a day after three schools were locked down as the manhunt began.

Judd said police are scouring between 75 and 150 acres of woods.

"It is so thick in that particular area you could literally walk by him close enough to touch him and not be able to see him," the sheriff said. "We plan to eliminate those issues early this morning."

A $40,000 reward has been offered for the man.

"We've also developed through witnesses that his name is possibly Alex or Andrew Cloxton or Angleo Freedland," Judd said. "We know that he has friends and associates in Polk County." They believe he is from the Miami area.

Stopped for speeding

The man is suspected of shooting the two sheriff's deputies, one fatally, and killing a police dog after being pulled over for speeding on Thursday, the sheriff said.

(Watch sheriff vow: "We will find him" -- 3:40 Video)

Speirs pulled the suspect over about 11:45 a.m. for speeding, Judd said. The suspect -- described as a black male, 6-feet-tall, wearing a white or light khaki T-shirt and dark pants and having a "Jamaican" accent -- told Speirs he had a Florida identification card but no driver's license.

During the traffic stop, Speirs went back to his car and returned several times to talk to the man, who was driving a rental car. At one point, the man asked, "Are you going to put me in jail?"

Speirs, Judd said, had already called for backup because he was suspicious and did not want to aggravate the situation. The deputy told the suspect that he doubted he would go to jail, saying, "It's a hot day. I'm not in the mood to drive all the way to the county jail."

But the man then ran into nearby woods, Judd said. Speirs went in about 200 to 300 feet, then returned to meet arriving officers and set up a perimeter.

Williams, the police dog and Speirs went into woods and faced "a sudden burst of gunfire," Judd said.

Williams, Speirs and the dog were shot in the ensuing gunfight. Speirs called for an ambulance, paramedics and additional police units.

Williams was shot multiple times, Judd said. "I don't believe he felt a thing."

A short time later, a Lakeland police detective was also fired on when he was notifying residents that the suspect might be in the area. When he returned fire, the suspect ran back into the woods, Judd said.

Police released a photo of the suspect but said it was taken off a Florida identification card thought to be false and could not verify the man's name or address.

Citizens offering information were told to call (800) 226-TIPS.

"We want this guy. We want him very badly. We want him in custody. We want him brought to justice," Judd said. "We know there are people out there that know him very well. If we haven't been to your house yet, we will be."

It was believed that Diogi may have attacked the suspect before being shot, and deputies also returned fire at the suspect. He may be shot or bitten, Judd said.

Three schools in the area initially were locked down. Students were bused out of the last facility, a high school, as of about 6:30 p.m. and taken to a church where their parents could pick them up, according to the sheriff's office.

Williams is survived by his wife and three children, a twin son and daughter, 16, and a 19-year-old son, Judd said. He was shot to death on his wife's birthday.

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