WEST MELBOURNE, Florida – Officers from the West Melbourne Police Department responded to a retail theft call at the Kohl’s Department Store located at 205 Palm Bay Road in the Hammock Landing shopping center on Friday evening, December 29, 2017 at 6:07 p.m.
While officers were enroute, they received information that the store’s loss prevention associate was actively chasing a black male suspect on foot outside the store. Additionally, responding officers learned that the suspect entered a red vehicle and fled towards Norfolk Parkway.
At the same time, a West Melbourne Police officer was arriving and entered the shopping center from Norfolk Parkway where he encountered the suspect vehicle at the four-way stop.
The officer exited his marked West Melbourne Police car with his emergency lights flashing, drew his firearm, and gave the driver loud verbal commands.
The driver of the vehicle failed to comply with the officer’s commands and began driving towards the officer.
In fear for his life, the officer fired multiple rounds at the suspect. The suspect vehicle then fled towards Norfolk Parkway, but the officer lost sight of the suspect vehicle near Palm Bay Road.
The officer was able to provide a description for responding units to be on the lookout for a red Nissan two-door.
A short time later at approximately 6:30 p.m., West Melbourne Police received information from Palm Bay Police that a person who had been shot was at the Palm Bay Community Hospital on Malabar Road.
Palm Bay Police responded to the hospital where they located a red Nissan Altima in the parking lot. The vehicle was unoccupied and clearly had damage consistent with the shooting.
Officers made contact inside the hospital with 35-year-old Christopher Stringer, the driver of the vehicle. Stringer received medical care for gunshot wounds and was transferred to another local hospital. Officers remained with Stringer while detectives investigated.
Detectives have secured an arrest warrant for Christopher Stringer charging him with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer, retail theft, resisting a retail merchant, and driving on a suspended license with knowledge. He remains in a local hospital. Once released, a judge has ordered that he be held on no bond.
In accordance with department policy, the officer involved has been placed on Administrative Leave.
The shooting incident is being independently investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The results of their criminal investigation will be turned over to the Office of the State Attorney who will review the facts of the case and determine if the officer’s use of force was appropriate under Florida law. Once the criminal investigation is closed, West Melbourne Police will conduct an internal investigation to review the officer’s actions as it relates to department policy.
Multiple witnesses have already been identified and interviewed. Anyone who might have witnessed the event, or portions of the event, is asked to contact the West Melbourne Police Department at (321)723-9673.
This investigation is ongoing. Additional information will be released when appropriate.
DISCLAIMER: Arrests and mugshots were made public by complaint affidavits, arrest affidavits, and police reports. All persons arrested are innocent until proven guilty.
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