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South Fla. deputy fatally shot

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August 10, 2007

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South Fla. deputy fatally shot

Officer Down: Sergeant Christopher Reyka - [Broward County, Florida]


Biographical Info

Age: 51

Cause of Death: Gunfire

Additional Information:
 Sergeant Reyka had served with the agency for 18 years. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Incident Details:  Sergeant Reyka was shot and killed while checking on two suspicious vehicles in a convenience store parking lot at approximately 1:20 am. He had parked next to the two vehicles and began checking their license plates.

As he exited his patrol car an occupant of one of the vehicles also exited the car and opened fire, striking Sergeant Reyka several times.

Customers of the store immediately called 911 to report the shooting. Sergeant Reyka was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds a short time later.

The suspect fled the scene and remains at large.

End of Watch: Friday, August 10, 2007

Fla. deputy fatally shot checking suspicious license plate

Second Broward County off shot in 5 days.

By Sallie James, Andrew Tran, Dianna Cahn

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — A Broward County sheriff's deputy was shot and killed early Friday in Pompano Beach, the second shooting of a Broward deputy this week.

The deputy was identified as Chris Reyka, 51, of Wellington. Early reports said that he had been shot in the head.

The shooting happened near a Walgreen drug store at 960 S. Pompano Parkway as Reyka was checking out the license plates of suspicious cars in the parking lot at about 1 a.m., said Sheriff's Office spokesman Mike Jachles.

"At this point, we believe the deputy exited his vehicle and around the same time one subject exited his vehicle and opened fire on the deputy, firing multiple shots," Jachles said.

The Sheriff's Office set up a large command post in the area as deputies searched for the killer. Just after the shooting, police concentrated their search along Interstate 95 and in the neighborhood surrounding the scene.

During the morning rush hour, BSO patrol cars were on every entrance ramp along I-95 with lights flashing as they searched for the suspect's car. Helicopters, deputies, police officers and canine patrols were mobilized from Palm Beach County south into Broward.

A $20,000 reward was offered.

"There is a massive manhunt for this cop killer," Jachles said.

Authorities were looking for a white, full-sized American-made passenger vehicle with tinted windows and stolen Florida tag F168UJ, Jachles said. The car, which has two unknown occupants, was believed to have been manufactured within the last 10 years and was not new, he said.

Reyka, the father of four children, joined the Pompano Beach police department in 1989 before it merged into the Sheriff's Office 10 years later.

Delores Barbare, a cashier at the nearby Bagel Snack Restaurant and Deli, said that Reyka used to come into her shop on occasion.

"It's absolutely terrible," she said. "That cop used to come in here. It's scary. It really is."

Friday's shooting came just days after another deputy, Maury Hernandez, was shot in the head and injured Monday after a traffic stop. David Maldonado has been charged in that shooting.

Reyka was taken to North Broward Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Sheriff Ken Jenne visited the hospital early Friday and said this week has been a very challenging one for his agency. Numerous deputies were at the hospital, where grief counselors were available to help.

Deputy Pepper Shaw, who has been on the force 30 years, was Reyka's training officer when he worked at the Pompano Beach police department. She said he quickly stood out among his fellow officers. Despite making detective and then being promoted to supervisor, Reyka always preferred patrolling in his car, she said.

"He had good instincts on the street. He was an excellent officer, very cautious," Shaw said.

Shaw described her fellow deputies as "devastated" by the shootings this week.

"It's hard to comprehend," she said. "Two officers shot in a week. It's really taking a toll on us."

Reyka had been named employee of the month in April for the Sheriff's Office district covering Pompano Beach. He won the award for finding a car stolen from Lighthouse Point and for spotting a suspicious vehicle whose occupants had just committed a burglary and grand theft, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Elliot Cohen.

"He was running tags on cars he thought were suspicious," Cohen said. "Today, it got him killed."

Reyka, a former Marine, had a wife, Kim; a 21-year-old daughter at college; a son, 20, who is in the Marines; a daughter, 15; and a son, 13.

Neighbors in the gated Isles community where he lived said he was a central figure in the neighborhood, where he was involved in the Cub and Boy Scouts and St. Therese de Liseux Catholic Church, near his home.

"Any kid would've been proud to have him as a dad. He was just so phenomenal," said Elizabeth Krupa, who moved into the neighborhood in 1998, about the same time as the Reykas.

Sharon Fritz of Loxahatchee, whose sister is married to Ryka's brother, described the deputy as easy-going and friendly to everybody.

"Unfortunately, he died doing what he loved best," Fritz said.

Van Roberts, 40, who lives in a condominium across the street from Walgreens, said he was on his couch watching television Friday morning when he heard several shots.

"I hear all these gunshots, it wasn't just one," said Roberts, a commercial real estate appraiser. "It was mulitple, it was just constant. With the number of gunsots I heard, it was almost like a gunfight."

The suspects were last seen northbound on South Pompano Park Road, Jachles said.

Dozens of highways, roads and ramps were shut down for a while as authorities searched for the gunman. The Florida Highway Patrol said traffic was moving normally on the I-95 and other roads.

The stolen tag was registered to Terry's Plumbing in Oakland Park. A secretary who answered the phone at the business said they had just found out about the theft and had no comment.

Berthe Blanchard, 78, who lives near the shooting scene, said she heard a a lot of noise Friday morning, but didn't know what had happened until her daughter called.

Copyright 2007 Sun-Sentinel

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