Two Lake Wales police officers shot in ambush

March 4th, 2015 by Staff

Lake Wales officers John Schwarze, 45, and Benjamin Metz, 38, suffered non life-threatening injuries.
(TBO.COM) LAKE WALES, Fla. – Two Lake Wales police officers were shot by a 59-year-old man who called 911 asking for help and “lured” them to his home Tuesday, authorities said.

Officers John Schwarze and Benjamin Metz were released from an area hospital after being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

The suspect was shot by officers who returned fire during a 15-minute gun battle and was being treated at a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

John Goepferich called 911 just before 6 pm. to report shots being fired from his home at 743 Hillside Ave., authorities said.
About 50 Lake Wales police officers and Polk County sheriff’s deputies responded.

Goepferich then opened fire, striking Schwarze and Metz, authorities said.

“He called us and lured us to come to his house,” Lake Wales Police Chief Velasquez said. “As soon as we arrived, he started shooting.”

Officers and deputies returned fire, striking Goepferich, Velasquez said.

“By the grace of God, these officers are alive,” Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Schwarze, 45, is a K-9 handler with the police department. He has been with Lake Wales police for five years. Metz, 38, has been with Lake Wales police for 11 months and had earlier served an 11-year stint with the department, Velasquez said. Both officers are married and have children.

“We are extremely grateful that neither of these officers sustained life-threatening injuries,” Velasquez said.

Goepferich will be charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, Judd said.
Officers have been called to Goepferich’s home in the past, Velasquez said, but had no specifics late Tuesday.

Judd said Goepferich’s daughter is Polk deputy and his son works in information technology for the sheriff’s agency. Both are “outstanding members of the sheriff’s office,” who are in “total shock,” Judd said.

jpatino@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7659
Twitter: @jpatinoTBO


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