Officer Down: Deputy Sheriff Paul Rein
Officer Down: Paul Rein - [Broward County, Florida]
Manhunt ends for suspected killer of Fla. deputy
POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — The suspected killer of a Broward Sheriff's deputy was captured by Hollwyood Police outside a pawn shop on Hollywood Boulevard, Sheriff Al Lamberti said Wednesday.
Michael Mazza is accused of ambushing and killing Deputy Paul Rein, 76, who was taking the suspect to the Broward County courthouse Wednesday morning.
Rein, a 20-year veteran, was taking Mazza to the Broward courthouse, where Mazza was to stand trial for bank robbery at 9 a.m., he was ambushed. Mazza took Rein's gun, shot him then dumped his body in the parking lot of a Pompano Beach nightclub, officials said. Mazza escaped in the medical-type van.
"We're sad to report we've lost another deputy," a somber Lamberti said. Rein's wife spoke to him on his cell phone about 10 minutes before the incident, Lamberti said.
A passerby watched Rein getting pushed from the van and called 911 about 8:10 a.m., officials said. Rescue crews arrived and took Rein to North Broward Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Mazza, 40, of Coral Springs, took Rein's sheriff's office van and drove south, eventually dumping the white, ambulance-like vehicle outside a Flannigan's restaurant at Southwest 27th Avenue and Davie Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Lamberti said earlier that investigators thought Mazza then caught a taxicab to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
Police from throughout South Florida continued their manhunt for Mazza, searching Palm Beach County train stations, oceanfront condos in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and his Coral Springs neighborhood. All Broward public schools and catholic schools were locked down.
Coral Springs police removed Mazza's 3-year-old son from Creative Child Preschool about 8:40 a.m. The boy and Mazza's wife, Lisa, have been with Coral Springs police since, said spokesman Sgt. Joe McHugh.
Rein comes from a family of law enforcement officers, Lamberti said. His son recently retired from the Davie Police Department, and his stepson is Coconut Creek police officer.
His death marks the third time in fourth months that a deputy has been shot, and the second time one has been killed. In August, Deputy Maury Hernandez was critically wounded by a gunman during a routine traffic stop. Less than a week later, Sgt. Chris Reyka was killed in Pompano Beach while running license plates.
"The first sentiment we got was, 'Oh no, not again,'" said Lamberti. "It's disconcerting."
Rein, who was a detention deputy, picked up Mazza from the North Broward Detention Center for a 9 a.m. court appearance in Fort Lauderdale, the sheriff's office said. His job was to transport inmates to court or hospitals, Lamberti said.
He was alone with Mazza in the van Wednesday morning, which is routine, Lamberti said. Mazza was handcuffed in the back, Lamberti said, adding that a cage separates the deputy from the defendant.
"We are looking at the possibility that this may have been a pre-planned escape attempt," said Sheriff's Spokesman Elliot Cohen said. "He may have had outside help."
Since Mazza headed to court Wednesday morning, he was dressed in a charcoal colored suit with a white shirt and black necktie, said Cohen.
"This is a man who has nothing to lose," Cohen said.
Cohen said that Mazza is already serving two life sentences for strong-arm robbery and is extremely dangerous. His criminal history dates back to 1990 and includes robberies and drug possession. In July, he was convicted to life in prison for the armed robbery of a drugstore, prosecutors said.
He was currently on trial for robbing a Coral Springs Bank of America was to go before Circuit Judge Paul Backman this morning at 9 a.m. His charges are robbery while wearing a mask, fleeing law enforcement, reckless driving and two counts of armed robbery.
Prosecutor Heather Henricksen said Mazza was caught with $24,000 cash on him.
Backman, Mazza's attorney, Maurice Graham, and prosecutors listened to updates about the shooting on the radio. Graham said he's known Mazza since he was a teenager.
At about 9:30 a.m., Graham said he filed for a mistrial because his client was absent from court, and "the equilibrium of the case has changed, things have changed."
Graham last saw his client about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when they were in court picking a jury for the case. The sheriff's office is asking anyone with information to call Broward Crimestoppers at 954-493-TIPS.
Staff writers Paula McMahon, Andrew Tran, Tonya Alanez and Sallie James contributed to this report.
Copyright 2007 The Orlando Sentinel