Fla. detective shot during investigation

St. Petersburg Times

TAMPA, Fla. — 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, investigators swooped into the residential neighborhood and searched house by house for DeAndre Jamal Wallace, an 18-year-old with a string of felonies, beginning with 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 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 to the drug dealer and Wallace. The drug dealer ran behind the house and Baumann chased him, but he got away.

When Baumann returned, the 300-pound, 5-foot-5 Wallace and Baumann began wrestling, Callaway said. Then Wallace pulled a gun and fired four times at Baumann, deputies say.

Baumann's partner, who was not identified, shot twice at Wallace, who ran from the house.

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

He was in stable but critical condition Saturday, 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 his lengthy rap sheet.

Wallace, just a few weeks shy of his 19th birthday, was described as a tough but happy young man 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."

Lavon Robinson was in her house when she heard four gunshots. 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."

Copyright 2007 St. Petersburg Times

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