Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Officer kills armed man at rest stop

Weapon was pellet gun; man was in stolen SUV

By Terry Flynn and Ray Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — A Florida man who had been sleeping at an interstate rest stop in a stolen SUV pulled a pellet gun on a Florence police officer and was shot dead early Monday.

Police shot a suspect who flashed this gun, amde to look like a Smith & Wesson pistol.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        Andrew David Mays, 18, of Avon Park, Fla., pulled the gun on two officers at the I-75 rest stop in Florence.

        The CO2-powered pellet gun had been made to closely resemble a Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol.

        The teen-ager, who officials said had a police record in Florida that included assault on a police officer and theft, was shot by Boone County Sheriff's Lt. James Beach shortly after 1 a.m.

        Lt. Beach fired twice through the passenger window of the stolen 1992 Ford Explorer when he said he saw Mr. Mays pull the handgun and appear to aim it at a Florence officer standing by the driver's side window.

        “The Florence officer shined his flashlight on his badge and identified himself as a police officer,” Boone County Lt. Jack Banks said Monday. “This is standard procedure when an officer approaches a vehicle with someone sleeping inside.”

        The officers had approached the vehicle with

        guns drawn, because police knew the Explorer was stolen.

        “Under those conditions, with the kind of light available and the circumstances involved, there was no way the officer could determine if the gun was a pellet gun or a real handgun,” Boone County Lt. Jack Banks said, adding that preliminary investigation indicated that the shooting was justified.

        “The Florence officer had made a routine tour through the rest area,” Lt. Banks said. “... A computer check showed that the car had been stolen in Georgia.”

        Maj. Garry Moss of the Calhoun (Ga.) Police Department said the vehicle was reported stolen from the parking lot of the Calhoun Outlet Center along I-75 between 1:30 and 2:45 p.m. Sunday.

        Maj. Moss was not sure how Mr. Mays traveled from Florida to Georgia.

        Lt. Banks said Mr. Mays never spoke to either officer, but immediately started the engine of the vehicle when he was awakened by the officer and then pulled the gun from the seat next to him.

        Lt. Banks said Lt. Beach moved slightly to one side to avoid placing the Florence officer, who was not identified, in the line of fire before firing two rounds from his .40-caliber Glock handgun through the window. Both rounds struck the suspect in the torso. Mr. Mays was pronounced dead at the scene.

        Additional police officers were nearby when the shooting occurred, including a Boone County K-9 unit.

        The Boone County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that there were outstanding warrants on Mr. Mays for assault on a police officer and theft from a vehicle.

        However, Sgt. Booker Johnson of the Highlands County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office in Sebring, near Avon Park in central Florida, said there was no record of any offenses against Mr. Mays on his computer system when his office checked late Monday afternoon. He said that may be because the department's warrants division had not yet entered them into the system.


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