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Wounded Cape Coral officer's recovery going well

His boss says he could be out of hospital in days

Apr. 18, 2011
Cape shooting suspect's first appearance
Cape shooting suspect's first appearance: Yousel Lopez Rivera, 20, makes his first appearance before Lee County Judge R. Thomas Corbin on Sunday (4/17/11) at the Lee County Justice Center in Fort Myers. Riveria is accused of attempting to kill Cape Coral police Officer David Wagoner.
Yousel Lopez Rivera, 20, was ordered held without bail Sunday.. Rivera is accused of attempting to kill Cape Coral police Officer David Wagoner, right. Rivera's neighbors are shocked he would allegedly shoot a police officer, but not shocked the police would call him a gang member. / Kinfay Moroti/
Officer David Wagoner / Special to


The man accused of shooting a Cape Coral police officer during a weekend traffic stop was ordered held without bail Sunday.

Yousel Lopez Rivera, 20, was represented by a public defender at a morning hearing in front of Judge R. Thomas Corbin.

Rivera is charged with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer after he allegedly shot Officer David Wagoner three times at point-blank range early Saturday when the Cadillac sedan in which Rivera was a passenger was stopped for an expired tag.

The first two bullets hit Wagoner's bulletproof vest while the third tore through his abdomen.

Wagoner continues to recover at Lee Memorial Hospital and could be released in a few days, interim police Chief Jay Murphy said.

"He's progressing as well as, if not better, than they would have hoped," Murphy said.

Wagoner and his family have seen an outpouring of support from the community, Murphy said. The tragedy also has created a greater sense of camaraderie at the department.

"It's just bringing everybody closer together," the interim chief said.

As officers continue to investigate the case, Murphy indicated there is still no clear motive as to why Rivera allegedly opened fire after the vehicle was pulled over on Santa Barbara Boulevard just north of Pine Island Road at 12:41 a.m. Saturday.

After the shooting, police said Rivera jumped on the lap of a 17-year-old girl who was driving the car and sped away.

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. N.

The girl and a man sleeping in the home were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Rivera, who fled the crash on foot, was taken into custody about two hours later after he was found hiding inside a plastic trash container outside a nearby house.

No charges or traffic citations were filed against the girl who was driving, whose name is not being released. Murphy said not releasing the driver's name is standard department procedure in cases such as this, in which the driver is not charged with a violation or crime.

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Rivera, a documented gang member according to Cape police who belongs to the street gang "KGB" or the "Krazy Getdown Boys," listed a home address in the northern part of the Cape. A woman at the residence confirmed Sunday that Rivera lives there, but declined to comment further.

Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School and Lee County High Tech Center North are near the neighborhood.

Raul and Mileydis Blanco, who live near Rivera's home, were shocked to learn their neighbor is accused of shooting an officer.

But the Blancos had long wondered whether the house was a haven for gang members.

"You can see the way they wear their clothes, the way they talk," Raul Blanco said.

The Blancos said people come and go from the house all day, and young men wearing baggy clothing would hang around outside late into the night.

The couple also said an older couple from Cuba live at the house, but that the residence seemed to be overrun by a revolving cast of younger men.

About a week ago, Mileydis Blanco said she was startled as she left for work around 4 a.m. and a group of rough-looking men were standing in the driveway.

But they said they felt safe because two law enforcement officers live nearby. In an adjacent lot behind Rivera's home Sunday, a Cape Coral police cruiser was parked outside. One street over sat a Lee County sheriff's deputy's car.

- Tom Hayden of The News-Press staff contributed to this report.

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