tampabay.com

Deputy wounded during drug raid

A wounded 18-year-old is arrested hours later at a McDonald's.

By CRISTINA SILVA AND KATHRYN HELMKE
Published April 29, 2007


TAMPA - Detective Christopher Baumann was the backup guy, the kind of deputy his colleagues at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office called when things looked like they were about to get bad.

During a routine drug investigation Saturday, they did. Baumann, 30, was critically injured when he was shot in the chest. Authorities said a gunman fired from arm's length.

As Baumann recovered from surgery at Tampa General Hospital late Saturday night, investigators swooped into the residential neighborhood and searched house by house for DeAndre Jamal Wallace, an 18-year-old with a string of felonies dating back to battery against a school employee when he was 10 years old.

After a nearly six-hour search, Wallace was found and arrested at a McDonald's parking lot near Interstate 4 and 22nd Street N. Wallace, who was shot by the deputies in the upper torso, will be charged with attempted murder, said J.D. Callaway, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

Baumann and other investigators were working an undercover operation investigating the sale of crack cocaine when the shooting occurred, Callaway said.

Two undercover detectives had bought crack cocaine at a home at 5206 82nd St. S.

During the sale, detectives saw Wallace near the home carrying a gun.

The deputies left the area and called for backup.

Baumann arrived with his partner shortly after and identified himself as a deputy. The drug dealer ran behind the house and Baumann chased him but he got away.

When Baumann returned to the house to ask about the suspect, the 300-pound, 5-foot-5 Wallace and Baumann began wrestling, Callaway said.

Then Wallace pulled a gun and fired four times at Baumann, Callaway said.

Baumann's partner, who was not identified, shot twice at Wallace, who had started to run from the house. They were unable to catch up with him, Callaway said.

Neighbors shocked

Baumann, a veteran narcotics detective, is "a top-notch deputy, " Callaway said. He joined the Sheriff's Office as in 1998.

On Saturday, he was in stable but critical condition, Callaway said. It appeared he would survive.

In Progress Village, a close-knit, small community of black families, friends said they were shocked Wallace was a suspect, despite the young man's lengthy rap sheet. In the span of six years, he was charged with eight crimes, including several counts of battery and robbery.

Wallace, just a few weeks shy of his 19th birthday, was described as a tough but happy young man, whom other youths in the neighborhood looked up to, friends and relatives said. He goes by the nickname "Fatty."

Sean Bell, a family friend, said Wallace had been in and out of trouble since he was a child, but was generally regarded as a good guy.

"There are two sides of every story, " Bell said. "He might have thought they were trying to hurt him."

Residents suspected

Alba Benck, who lives in the neighborhood and occasionally hung out with Wallace, said she had never heard of him being referred to as a drug dealer, but was aware that he smoked marijuana.

"We didn't think it was this bad, " she said.

Lavon Robinson was in her house when she heard four gunshots in succession. Immediately, deputies poured into the neighborhood, she said.

"It was crazy, " she said. "The way they swarmed the area, they picked up everybody. Everybody was a suspect."

Wallace was a little rowdy, but he seemed to fit in with the others kids, she said.

"I can't believe he can shoot a gun, " she said.

No one seemed to know where Wallace was hiding out Saturday night. Residents and news reporters filled the streets and waited as half a dozen helicopters swooped over the area and nearly 200 deputies combed the streets looking for Wallace.

"I have never seen anything like this, except on television, " Bell said.

Wallace reportedly intended to turn himself in, Callaway said.

He was stopped at the McDonald's by an undercover deputy. He was then transported to Tampa General Hospital for treatment of his gunshot wound.

Sheriff David Gee said deputies frequently visit the crime stricken neighborhood.

"There are going to be people in here who don't like the police, "but most residents support the Sheriff's Office goal to rid the neighborhood of crime, he said.

Cristina Silva can be reached at 727 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.