MIAMI (CBS4)- Thousands attended the memorial service for the two slain officers in St. Petersburg Friday, including members of South Florida’s police.
The ceremony was held at the First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg at 11 a.m. A joint funeral service was held for Sergeant Thomas J. Baitinger, 48, and K-9 Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz, 39, who were killed in Monday’s shooting.
The officers were killed by Hydra Lacy Jr., while they were interviewing a relative of Lacy at a home. During the interview with Lacy’s relative, they learned that Lacy was hiding in the attic of the home. The officers were shot while attempting to get Lacy from the attic.
Lacy had a long criminal history. Lacy was wanted on an arrest warrant for Failure to Appear on a charge of Aggravated Battery that was issued on November 2010. His criminal history also included Aggravated Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer, Sexual Assault and Kidnapping. He was also a registered sexual offender.
Officers Baitinger and Yaslowitz were the 5th and 6th officers to die in the state in the last seven months. Baitinger is survived by his wife, Paige, while Yaslowitz is survived by his wife, Lorraine, and their three children, two boys – 5 and 12 years of age, and a girl, 8 years of age.
Florida law enforcement members came together following the shooting deaths of officers in both Miami-Dade and St. Petersburg. On Friday morning members of South Florida’s police drove to Florida’s west coast for the memorial of the slain officers in St. Petersburg. They hope to provide any type of support they can.
The officers left South Florida for St. Petersburg before 5 a.m. in a caravan of about 40 police units. They are making a four-hour drive and are scheduled to arrive just shortly before the funeral.As South Florida police officers are reliving events that occurred to them just a week ago, they are not the only ones who are reaching out to the St. Petersburg community.
The family of slain officer Amanda Haworth reached out to the St. Petersburg families.
“We feel so sorry and we want them to know that the police officers have taken care of us and they’ll take care of them,” Haworth’s father Bob Haworth said.
Haworth’s life partner Rosie Diaz offered her condolences.
“There are no words to express how we feel for them since we are still going through our own pain,” Diaz said.
She said she gets her strength from the Haworth family.
Detectives Roger Castillo and Haworth were shot to death last week while serving an arrest warrant on 22-year-old Johnny Simms. He was also shot and killed.
Haworth’s former partner Jeri Mitchell said she wants to help the families in St. Petersburg cope.
“We truly know the pain they’re going through,” she said. “We’re living the same pain a couple days later than they have.”
Haworth’s 13-year-old son Austin is still too distraught to talk about his mother, but he said he knows what the families on Florida’s west coast are feeling, and so does his half brother Jordan Mitchell.
“We know their pain,” he said. “And there’s not much you can do to get rid of it.”
Diaz said there’s a reason police officers took their oath and it’s to protect the community.
“As hard as this is for us each day that we wake up and we go to bed at night we will, everyday of our lives, from here on in, make sure that these kids know that the community is good and that they need our protection, and that that is the reason that we took the oath that we took,” she said.
(CBS4’s Cristina Puig contributed to this report)