We’ve lost another brother.
Today we received the heartbreaking news about a detention officer that was fighting for his life at the Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix. He had been fighting for his life after suffering from a vicious assault that occurred at the Lower Buckeye Jail in Maricopa County, Arizona earlier this week.
(1/2) Earlier tonight, Detention Officer Lee, surrounded by his family, passed away. Under these tragic circumstances and out of respect for the Lee family, MCSO will not be making any further statements tonight. pic.twitter.com/GzVTlCCm7x
— Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (@mcsoaz) October 31, 2019
An inmate at the jail who has been held in custody for over two years for charges related to sexual assault of a minor is the alleged attacker of the officer, Gene Lee, who recently succumbed to his injuries sustained in the encounter with the inmate.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said that Officer Gene Lee died Wednesday evening. He was surrounded by friends and family. A written statement provided by the Sheriff’s office stated the following:
“Earlier tonight, Detention Officer (Gene) Lee, surrounded by his family, passed away. Under these tragic circumstances and out of respect for the Lee family, MCSO will not be making any further statements tonight. Please keep the entire Lee family, friends and his MCSO colleagues in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
The 64-year-old officer was attacked by an inmate at the Lower Buckeye Jail Tuesday morning.
On Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Paul Penzone held a news conference at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix to update the public on what happened. During the conference, Penzone stated the following:
“While at work, without any initial interaction leading him to believe there’s a potential threat, he was attacked by an inmate. The inmate caught him off-guard, grabbed him by his throat and then swept his legs out from under so aggressively that when he was knocked off balance and thrown to the floor, the first part of his body to strike the cement was his head.”
Two detention officers immediately restrained Davitt and removed him from the area as paramedics were called, Penzone said. Davitt had been in Sheriff’s Office custody for two years on sex crime charges involving children. Penzone said he was unsure if Davitt had a violent record before nor had he interacted with Lee in any significant capacity.
Penzone called the attack against Lee “tragic and egregious,” and called the inmate who allegedly attacked Lee a “criminal predator.”
The inmate, identified as 59-year-old Daniel Davitt, was serving time for sexual offenses involving children.
Penzone says he has been transferred to the Pinal County Jail system “to get him out of our system,” and that he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Penzone also reflected on the challenges faced by detention and corrections officers everyday:
“We see what happens in the streets with our deputies and with the officers and the challenges that they face every day and the threats that they face, but it is not spoken of often enough that the men and women who work inside the jail system face similar threats on a daily basis.”
Governor Doug Ducey took to Twitter on Wednesday and posted the following with regard to the incident that occurred at the jail:
Arizona mourns the loss of MCSO Detention Officer Gene Lee, whose life was taken far too soon. In honor of Officer Lee’s life and service, I’ve ordered flags at all state buildings today be lowered to half-staff. @mcsoaz pic.twitter.com/iiqd33uXZF
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) October 31, 2019
“Maricopa County Detention Officer Gene Lee put his life on the line to keep his fellow citizens and officers safe. His loss is felt by all Arizonans. My sincere condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”
Lee was a six-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. He leaves behind his wife and four adult children that in the wake of his death.
— The 9th Floor (@9thFloorAZ) October 31, 2019
We here at Law Enforcement Today extend our prayers for the family this brave detention officer left behind. It’s the dangers these men and women face everyday when they step into work that help keep our streets clear from the criminal predators that would wish to inflict harm on us.
In the meantime, healing prayers are needed for a wounded deputy in Anderson County, Texas.
This after last week’s incident where a Texas man stole a cruiser and led deputies on a wild chase involving two separate shootings that left the suspect dead and a deputy wounded.
KETK reported that Terry Lee Countryman Jr. was killed in a shootout after his alleged crime spree last Saturday.
The Texas Rangers said that Deputy Bradley Colman had been investigating reports of a stolen vehicle when he made contact with Countryman at Hickory Ridge Mobile Home Park. At some point during the encounter, Countryman drew a weapon and fired at the Texas deputy, striking him at least one time.
Terry Lee Countryman Jr. died while trying to evade authorities after he shot Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Bradley Colman. Colman remains hospitalized in serious condition. https://t.co/9cf9seYlmf
— KETK AnnaLise Coble (@AnnaLiseCoble) October 22, 2019
Then the armed suspect hopped behind of the wheel of Colman’s cruiser and took off, leaving the wounded deputy for dead.
DPS troopers immediately converged on the scene. As emergency crews provided medical aid to the wounded lawman, others began to spread out in search of the gunman.
Deputy Colman was airlifted to a Tyler hospital where he was listed in critical condition, according to KETK’s report.
A number of local law enforcement agencies from the area joined in on the manhunt for Countryman. He was spotted just a few miles from the scene of the original shooting. Still behind the wheel of Colman’s vehicle, Countryman reportedly drove head on at officers, smashing the squad car into a Palestine Police Department vehicle.
Police say that he again opened fire on officers giving chase. After the crash, his vehicle disabled, Countryman snagged a rifle out of the deputy’s car and continued to run, this time on foot.
Texas authorities say after a short run, Countryman stole a third vehicle, managing to get a short distance before once again crashing and disabling his ride. He then jumped out of that car and ran into the woods, still armed with the loaded rifle.
Suddenly, he was off the map as police were unable to locate his position.
But then, according to DPS, he was spotted miles away in Montalba. According to the report, Countryman pointed his rifle at a trooper, prompting that officer to fire back, striking him and taking him to the ground.
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The suspect was taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead from his injuries.
Records showed that Countryman had a lengthy criminal history with offenses across a number of states.
Locally, he was arrested twice in 2014 and 2015, he racked up arrests in Florida, got hit with drug charges in 2016, was arrested for skipping bail and recently had been arrested for stealing cars and running from the police.
Anderson County deputy shot, suspect killed in Saturday shootings https://t.co/TA8PYFqP8n
— CBlaCK HHE (@CrazyBLACKHHE) October 20, 2019
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media that Deputy Colman’s family had been flown in from Iowa as he begins his recovery.
Our hearts go out to Anderson County and the Colman family during this difficult time.