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Published: Thursday, 9/28/2006

Police seek man who shot, killed Florida deputy


LAKELAND, Fla. A man who had been pulled over for a traffic violation shot two sheriff's deputies today, killing one of them and prompting an intensive manhunt that forced a lockdown at three schools, officials said.

The shooter was first approached during a traffic stop, but he fled into a wooded area when the officer began asking him about his identity, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

That officer and a deputy who arrived seconds later with a police dog chased him into the woods. Shots were fired, and the two deputies and the dog were hit, Judd said.

The sheriff identified the slain deputy as Matt Williams. Another deputy was shot in the leg and will survive, he said.

The suspect exchanged fire with more officers shortly afterward when they approached a house in the wooded area, but he got away again, Judd said.

''Listen to me, folks,'' Judd said at a news conference. ''We will find him. We will bring him to justice. The sooner, the better.''

The shooting occurred near Kathleen High School, which was locked down, Wood said. A woman at the school who would identify herself only as Mrs. Platt said students were locked in their classrooms and were safe.

Two other schools farther away also were locked down.

Authorities cordoned off a large area around the suspect's car but had not evacuated any homes. Helicopters circled in wide arcs as emergency vehicles raced up and down roads.

Television video footage showed police with shields searching a wooded area with traffic backed up on nearby Interstate 4, which runs through the city about 35 miles east of Tampa. A law enforcement helicopter flew over the area, and armed officers were seen surrounding a ramshackle building.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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