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Cop shooting suspect flees, crashes into bedroom
Cop shooting suspect flees, crashes into bedroom: The tenant of a Cape Coral home describes the scene and injuries to her brother after a suspect who was fleeing the scene after allegedy shooting a Cape Coral police officer crashes a vehicle into her brother's bedroom. (Video courtesy of WINK News)
David Wagoner, left, and Yousel Lopez Rivera.
Cape Coral interim police chief Jay Murphy speaks about the shooting of Cape Coral Police Officer David Wagoner during a press conference at Lee Memorial Hospital Saturday. / Amanda Inscore/news-press.com
Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan fields questions during a town hall meeting at the Cape Coral-Lee County Public Library in the wake of a Cape Coral Police officer shooting. Mayor Sullivan was informed of the shooting shortly before his town hall meeting. / Brian Hirten/news-press.com

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Cape Coral police aren’t sure what caused a 20-year-old gang member to allegedly open fire on an officer during a traffic stop early Saturday.

“There was no clear motive as to why he would have done something like this,” interim Chief Jay Murphy said.

Before Officer David Wagoner could ask questions, the passenger of a Cadillac sedan pulled over for an expired tag on Santa Barbara Boulevard fired three point-blank shots at him. The first two hit his bulletproof vest. The third tore through his abdomen.

The four-year veteran of the Cape Coral Police Department returned fire then radioed in a description of the shooter and the vehicle. Hours later, Wagoner, married and a father of three, was recovering from surgery at Lee Memorial Hospital.

Yousel Lopez Rivera, of Cape Coral, has been arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer. He is scheduled to appear before a judge this morning.

Rivera is a documented gang member who belongs to a street gang called “KGB” or the “Krazy Getdown Boys,” police said. His arrest record with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office showed various misdemeanor arrests dating back to May 2009 for offenses such as marijuana possession and reckless driving. One felony was related to property damage.

His companion in the Cadillac was a 17-year-old girl, who has not been charged. The girl, whose name was withheld, was the driver when Wagoner pulled them over, police said.

After the shooting, Rivera jumped on her lap and drove the car. At Northeast 11th Lane the car veered left, crossed a vacant lot and careened into the front bedroom of a house at 1138 Santa Barbara Blvd. North.

Rivera ran after the crash. The girl and a man sleeping in the bedroom, who has not been identified, were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The house was so badly damaged, however, no one was allowed to live in it.

A helicopter was dispatched to help officers and K-9 units search for Rivera, who was found around two hours later hiding in a garbage can next to a nearby home.

“He was actually hiding in one of those now-infamous Cape Coral 90-gallon trash cans,” Murphy said.

He thanked the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Fort Myers Police Department, who helped search for the suspect and also handled calls.

Murphy also was thankful for the bulletproof vest Wagoner wore.

“It was only because of his body armor that he had on that he’s here today,” he said.

First shot in Cape

Wagoner, 43, is the first Cape Coral policeman shot in the line of duty. Others have been seriously injured. Motorcycle officer Damien Garcia is recovering from head injuries he suffered in a 2009 crash.

“It’s terrible. This shouldn’t happen to anyone,” said Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan, who learned about the shooting from a resident about 15 minutes before his 10 a.m. town hall meeting Saturday.

“I think it’s a real strange situation due to the fact that somebody pulls a gun on a traffic stop; that doesn’t make sense,” Sullivan said.

Wagoner was in stable condition by late morning. Family members and law enforcement officers kept vigil in a private waiting room, hospital officials said.
The family declined comment Saturday.

Murphy, who spoke with Wagoner over the phone after surgery and met with him in the afternoon, said Wagoner was in excellent spirits and could return to work in a few weeks.

He said Wagoner followed procedures to a T.

“This officer did everything he could possibly do,” he said. “It’s of no fault of his own that this occurred. He was basically ambushed.”

After stopping a vehicle, officers are trained to approach with caution, shining a flashlight through the windows to check for anything suspicious.

“They have to rely on their training, their sixth sense of safety,” Murphy said.

Although the police department would like to have two officers at each stop, only one is often available. And though Cape Coral officers conduct thousands of traffic stops each year, each one is handled differently, Murphy said.

“There are no routine traffic stops and that’s what officers are taught from day one,” he said.

A chaotic morning

Amanda Raposa, who lives at the house Rivera crashed into, said it was a chaotic scene Saturday morning.

“The door came flying off my brother’s room, there is smoke everywhere and all he keeps yelling is, ‘a car ran into my wall, a car ran into my room,’” according to news partner WINK-TV.

“He is a little bloody, a little messed up, he could barely stand, shaken up,” Raposa said.

“He has a tire burn on his arm where his tattoo is and then he has some scrapes on his face where the concrete came blowing out of the wall,” she said.

Jennifer Ritter, who lives near the crash site, said she saw police with flashlights searching the neighborhood, and heard the helicopter overhead. She went outside to see what was happening.

“I thought it was a DUI stop,” Ritter said. “They told me there was an armed suspect and to go back inside.”

Her first reaction was: “Oh my God, where do I live?” Ritter said.

But she said she still felt safe in her neighborhood. “It was a random traffic stop that worked its way down here,” Ritter said.

The house smashed by the car is owned by Willard Hopkins of San Pablo, Calif. Built in 2006, it is valued at $69,558, according to the county.

“Oh great,” Hopkins said when he first heard about the incident from The News-Press about 12 hours after the crash.

The house is rented, but Hopkins did not have the tenants’ contact information available.

The house smashed by the car is owned by Willard Hopkins of San Pablo, Calif. Built in 2006, it is valued at $69,558, according to the county.

“Oh great,” Hopkins said when he first heard about the incident from The News-Press about 12 hours after the crash.

The house is rented, but Hopkins did not have the tenants’ contact information available.

— The News-Press staff writer Evangelia Ganosellis contributed to this report.

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