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Fla. officer surprised he survived gun battle with teens

By Sarah Lundy
The Orlando Sentinel

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Daytona Beach Police Officer Jermaine Jones said Thursday he can't believe he survived a gun battle with teenagers who broke into his home earlier this month.

"I went back to see where it happened...and I am amazed I'm still alive," the officer said during a press conference this morning at the Daytona Beach Police Department. "We were five to seven feet apart ... in a gun battle."

Jones — who appeared with his wife and mother — spoke publicly for the first time about the violent encounter on Jan. 17.

Jones was shot after he and his wife, Tori Jones, discovered three teenagers burglarizing their Pine Hills home.

The couple was heading home from the movies when they received a call from a neighbor about a commotion inside their duplex.

When they got home, Jones told his wife to call 911 as he went around the back of the home. That's where he encountered Brandon Harris coming out of a sliding glass door.

The officer yelled "freeze" when Harris started shooting, Jones said. He didn't get a chance to say "police." "He just opened fire," Jones said. "The fire fight was on."

The first or second shot hit Jones on the right side of his stomach. The adrenaline pumping through Jones at the time shielded the pain, he said.

"(The bullet) went straight in and went out and hit nothing — no major organs," he said. Jones underwent surgery the next day at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Jones fired back, fatally wounding 17-year-old Harris. Jones noticed a second suspect, Jordan Mathis, 16, rolling around on the ground nearby. He too had been shot.

Mathis survived and was arrested.

The officer didn't see the third teen – 17-year-old Ivory Anderson run out the front door. A tip led authorities to him two days later.

Jones said he didn't know teenagers were involved until the next day, when he learned from the media. He wasn't surprised because parts of Pine Hills are "notorious for juvenile crime," he said.

"It amazes me how these kids. ... get that type of weapon," he said.

The officer is still recuperating from his surgery and hasn't yet returned to work.

Copyright 2008 Orlando Sentinel

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