A $5,000 reward is now being offered for information that will help the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission locate the last man they say was involved in running over one of its officers.
“He knows what he’s done and he needs to turn himself in,” Captain Brooks of the FWC said. “Whether he wants to turn himself in or you want to make $5,000 that’s up to him.”
It all began Saturday night when an officer patrolling the Avon Park Bombing Range caught three people shining a spotlight from River Ranch onto the property, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, who is leading the criminal investigation, said in a news release.
The officer was acting on information that there was illegal poaching in the area, according to the FWC. When he approached the group of three Hispanic men, the officer secured their shotguns in what Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says is an act that likely saved his life.
As the officer began to speak to the group, the sheriff’s office says Michel Amalfi jumped on the officer and started fighting with him. Soon after an unknown man joined in.
While the fight continued, deputies say Lazaro Milian, who is on probation for grand theft, hopped on an ATV and took off as the others “beat [the officer] down.”
After the struggle, deputies say the two men hopped on their remaining side-by-side ATV, running the officer over while they fled.
“They left him an hour deep in these woods and they didn’t care whether he survived or not,” Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference.
According to Judd, the hunting camp spans approximately 88,000 acres.
The officer was able to call for assistance and the search to find him began. Judd thanks the FWC’s vehicle GPS technology for their ability to quickly locate him.
He and the FWC also thanked the efforts of nearly 100 law enforcement officers for being able to secure a perimeter and work overnight to track down Amalfi and Milan.
“When you attack one law enforcement officer, you have attacked all law enforcement officers,” he said.
As for where they were found? Judd says thanks to a dropped cellphone deputies were able to determine Amalfi had a hunting camp in the area. A search warrant was obtained for the site, as were Amalfi and Milan, who have since been arrested.
One of the ATVs was also found submerged in the water. Deputies are still searching for the other they say was used to run over the officer.
Both men have secured lawyers and are refusing to share information on the incident, according to the sheriff’s office.
Since the incident, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer was treated and released from the hospital, the agency said offering their thoughts and prayers to his family.
The FWC also commended their officer’s actions and how he “fought for his life” in a three-against-one battle.
“They decided this was going to be the night where he was going to have to fight for his life,” Major Young of the FWC said, adding that their officer persevered.
Anyone with information regarding the man still considered to be on the run is asked to call the FWC tip line at 1-888-404-3922 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-226-8477.
Several agencies reportedly responded to the scene to assist, including the FWC Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Lakeland Police Department, Auburndale Police Department, Winter Haven Police Department and Lake Wales Police Department.