The Polk County Sheriff's Office is assisting the Auburndale Police Department in reference to an APD officer who was shot Friday evening, September 2, 2011, in what Sheriff Grady Judd called "an ambush."
Very preliminary information is as follows:
At 10:06 p.m. on Friday evening, September, 2nd, the Polk County Sheriff's Emergency Communications Center, which answers 911 calls for and dispatches calls to the majority of the city police departments within Polk County, received an "unconfirmed emergency" AKA "911 hang-up" from 413 Diamond Ridge Drive in Auburndale. Telecommunicators continued to call back to the number and were able to make contact with a woman, who told them her daughter tried to call 911 in reference to a dispute she was having with her husband but that everything was fine. She also said that she and her daughter were leaving the house.
The Auburndale Police Department was dispatched to the home to ensure everything was okay, per normal operating procedure. The first APD officer on-scene was 26-year-old Stacy Lee Booth, who arrived at approximately 10:17 p.m. As she approached the home, she was struck by what is believed to be shotgun rounds through the front door of the home. She was shot in the right forearm, and through her abdomen. Despite her serious gunshot wounds, Officer Booth was able to call for assistance on her radio, and go to the neighboring residence for safety.
When backup officers arrived, they provided security for the Fire and EMS units who came to extract Officer Booth from the scene - the suspect, later identified as Michael Wayne Lester, DOB 1/27/1975, continued to fire rounds at the officers who were responding, from inside his home. Fortunately, no other officer was shot or injured. Officer Booth was airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where she underwent surgery. She is currently in critical but stable condition.
The suspect, Michael Lester, refused all commands to surrender his weapon and come out of the home. The PCSO SWAT team responded to the scene to continue negotiations with Lester and safely remove him from the home. FHP, WHPD, The State Fire Marshal, Auburndale Fire, and Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies all responded to the scene to assist. Gas canisters were introduced into the residence by the PCSO SWAT team, and around 1:00 a.m., Lester was removed unconscious from the home. He did not suffer any injuries or gunshot wounds - he is believed to have been unconscious due to the gas fumes.
He was taken to LRMC to be treated, and was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with: 4 counts Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer, 1 count Possession of Firearm While Engaged in a Felony, 1 count Shooting Within a Dwelling, 1 count Aggravated Battery, 1 count Resisting Arrest With Violence.
Lester has a criminal history in Polk County. All inmates, past and present, can be found on our website www.polksheriff.org under Jail Search.
For your convenience, his current mugshot is attached here.
Officer Booth has been with the Auburndale Police Department since April 2010.
She is engaged to be married to Polk County Detention Deputy Thomas West. All inquiries about Officer Booth should be directed to the Auburndale Police Department.
The investigation is ongoing.