Bullet hits Fla. officer's headrest in cruiser; just misses his head

Katie Fretland
Sentinel Staff Writer

MOUNT DORA, Fla. — Sgt. Jim Jicha narrowly missed a gunshot to the head.

Jicha was patrolling the area of Jackson Avenue and Orange Street on Tuesday morning when a bullet shattered his police car's rear window and lodged in his headrest. The impact threw him forward in his seat. He reached back and felt wetness on the back of his head. It was only sweat, but the moment terrified him, he said.

"Someone was watching over me," he said Tuesday night.

Jicha, a patrol-operations sergeant and 21-year veteran of the agency, was not injured in the 1:15 a.m. shooting. Law-enforcement officers canvassed the neighborhood but were unable to locate the shooter Tuesday.

His family is thankful he was not hurt. Jicha's wife, Tammy, is a school resource deputy at the Lake County Sheriff's Office, and his stepson, Travis, also is a law-enforcement officer.

"I am really relieved," said his brother, Larry Jicha, 48, of Winter Garden. "He's been on the force for years, and this is the first time anything like this has happened. Mount Dora is such a quaint little town. It's a shame that it happened."

Crime-scene technicians found 40-caliber bullets that likely came from a semi-automatic handgun in the same area, Mount Dora police spokeswoman Robbin Mayfield said. Aside from the bullet found inside Jicha's vehicle, three others were located near a residence at Jackson and Orange.

"We don't know if he was targeted, if somebody purposely tried to shoot at him or if somebody was randomly firing off shots and bullets hit his vehicle," Mayfield said. "We're hoping somebody with some information will come forward."

Jicha, 51, returned to work Tuesday night wearing his bulletproof vest, which he was not wearing during the shooting.

"I'm just glad I'm here," he said. "I believe we're going to get him [the shooter]."

Anyone with information about the shooting should call the Police Department at 352-735-7130 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.

Copyright 2007 The Orlando Sentinel

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