A police officer in Daytona Beach, Fla., is said to be “fighting for his life” after being shot in the head late Wednesday as a manhunt for the suspected gunman continues, the Daytona Beach Police Department said.
According to officials, a $100,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to the suspect, 29-year-old Othal Wallace. A tip line has been established at 386-671-5555.
A portion of the body camera footage from the incident was released by Daytona police, showing the moments leading up to the shooting. In the video, the officer is seen walking up to the suspect’s car and asking, “How’s it going? Do you live here?”
The man stands up out of the car and asks, “What’s going on?” The officer responds, “Sit, sit, sit, sit. You sit down. I’ll talk to you,”
The suspect then says, “Sir, come on now. Come on now. Don’t do this. Why you asking me do I live here?”
The officer is heard speaking into his radio, at which point the man says, “Naw, back up, man.”
The suspect and officer get into a scuffle before a gunshot rings out and the video stops.
During a press conference as reported by the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said the 26-year-old police officer who was shot underwent a successful surgery, but “he still has a long way to go.”
Young said the officer was patrolling behind 133 Kingston Ave. around 9 p.m. Wednesday.
“Upon arrival he contacted a coward that was sitting inside a 2016 Honda vehicle with a California tag on it and as he was escorting him out of the car, at some point the suspect turns and shoots my officer one time in the head,” Young said. “The officer is currently at Halifax Hospital in grave condition.”
“It’s not good,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood added regarding the officer’s condition.
As the hunt for Wallace reached its 16th hour, a “Blue Alert” – a public notification providing critical information when an officer is injured, missing, or killed and the suspect is still at large – was sent to residents’ phones across Florida. In the alert, Wallace was described as a black man with a goatee and mustache wearing a yellow shirt and dark beanie. The suspect also wears a gold grill over his teeth and had a neck tattoo.
The alert warned, “If located, DO NOT APPROACH. Contact law enforcement immediately.”
According to Young, over 500 officers from a number of agencies have joined in the hunt.
“This entire county is on lockdown until we track this coward down,” Young said. “So I’m grateful for every agency that has responded over here tonight to help us because they are committed to staying out here until we have this coward in custody.”
Young added that several ballistic vests, multiple high-capacity magazines, a rifle, handgun, and numerous boxes of ammunition were discovered in an apartment linked to the suspect.
”He should be considered armed & dangerous,” the Sheriff’s Office tweeted.
According to independent journalist Ford Fischer, Wallace allegedly marched with the Black Nationalist NFAC Militia in September 2020 in Louisville, Ky. Fischer claimed to have video recorded Wallace, although his claims and video footage have not been confirmed by officials.
“A manhunt is taking place in Daytona Beach after police say Othal “O-Zone” Wallace shot a cop, leaving them in critical condition,” the tweet stated, along with a photo allegedly showing Wallace with the militia. “I filmed Wallace march with the Black Nationalist NFAC Militia September 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky.”
“Please keep him and his family in your prayers,” the police department tweeted late Tuesday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also tweeted his support for the fallen officer.
“Casey and I are praying for the Daytona Beach police officer who was shot by a criminal last night,” DeSantis wrote. “All available resources are being dedicated to catching the perpetrator and bringing him to justice.”
A vigil for the critically wounded officer will take place at 3:30 p.m. outside Halifax Health Medical Center, 303 N. Clyde Morris Blvd.