FLORIDA KEYS (CBSMiami) – On January 20th, just before midnight, a call came into the 911 command center for Monroe County.
“We’re having a domestic dispute,” a woman says. “My husband told me that he is going to kill me. He has the gun.”
Just then the line went dead.
“Hello? Hello ma’am,” the 911 operator can be heard saying.
The woman, Jeanne Schminky, called back using a neighbors cell phone, explaining her husband just ripped their phone out of the wall.
“I need somebody out here right now before he leaves,” she declared.
As she spoke to 911 operators, she was standing in the street watching him load several guns into her car.
“I can tell you right now he’s gonna flee, like a bat out of hell,” she said. “It’s a white Lexus.”
“Is it a sedan, an SUV?”
Before she could answer the operator’s question, her husband, Robert Schminky, ran toward her. His hands on the muzzle of a shotgun he swung it like a baseball bat.
“He’s going to hit me,” she screamed.
What follows is a harrowing series of screams and cries for help as the woman falls to the ground and is struck repeatedly by her husband.
The 62-year-old woman was hit so hard the wooden butt of the shotgun broke into pieces. As the first deputies arrive at the Key Largo home, Robert Schminky moved away from his wife toward the white Lexus. Deputy Angelina Lubin recounted for investigators what happened next.
“As I’m yelling to him I notice he has a weapon in his hand,” she recalled. “It looked like a shotgun. I yell to him, drop the weapon, drop the weapon, as I’m yelling to him I hear him rack the shotgun.”
Schminky let loose two rounds into the ground. The blast can be heard on the 911 call. Schminky took off in his wife’s Lexus.
Racing to the scene, Sgt. Sydney Whitehouse spotted the Lexus speeding along US 1 without any headlights. Whitehouse chases the car and is soon joined by State Trooper Christine Gracey. Schminky leads them through side streets, over medians, before heading north on US 1, reaching speeds of 100 mph. Schminky led the pair along the turnoff for Card Sound Road.
A couple of miles up the road, Schminky slowed down, and made a U-turn. As Whitehouse tried to turn as well, Schminky pulled up alongside him. Schminky allegedly pulled out a handgun and began firing at Whitehouse.
Whitehouse recalled the moment in his interview with detectives later that morning.
“I remember him come up beside me and I heard the shot ring out,” Whitehouse said. “I heard something on my car hit and that’s when I returned fire. After I fired my shots I spun out to get back behind him instead of sitting as a sitting duck.”
After exchanging rounds with Whitehouse, Schminky set his sights on Trooper Gracey – sideswiping her car, he fired several rounds at her.
“I could see him, I could see his silhouette, but I ducked down at that point and made a quick U-turn,” she said.
Whitehouse and Gracey continued their pursuit as he approached the Circle K in Key Largo – eerily crawling along the roadway. When he finally pulled into the parking lot, Whitehouse followed as Gracey tried to box him in. Perhaps sensing the trap, Schminky slammed head on into the trooper’s car. They were now face to face, no more than a few feet separating them.
“I could see his stringy hair,” she said. “He had a firearm resting on the steering wheel.”
Gracey threw her car in reverse, to get some distance, but their bumpers were locked together. Still punching the gas, Gracey made a decision that likely saved her life – she dove behind her dashboard.
“I mean at that point I really and truly thought he was going to kill me if I didn’t get under the dashboard,” she said.
With their cars locked together, Schminky fired point blank through his own windshield at the trooper – one bullet hitting where she would have been sitting if she hadn’t taken cover behind the dash. Eventually Gracey manage to free her patrol car and take cover. Whitehouse moved forward and opened fire.
Standing there, Whitehouse realized there was something wrong.
“I felt it in my leg, felt the burning in my leg,” he said.
The sergeant had been shot – more than likely during the earlier encounter when Schminky pulled up alongside him on card sound road. But he only noticed it now.
With Gracey’s car badly damaged and Whitehouse hit, Schminky managed to drive off. It wasn’t long, however, before Deputy Nestor Argote picked up the pursuit, chasing Schminky into the parking lot of St. Justin the Martyr’s Church where more gunfire erupted.
“As soon as I saw the handgun I just started firing,” he said.
Schminky took off into the woods behind the church ditching his gun as he ran. But the night had taken its toll, and as he reached a clearing near the water, Schminky just stopped as Argote approached.
“He’s just standing there looking up at the sky,” he said.
The deputy tackled him and he was placed in a patrol car.
He is facing multiple counts of attempted murder on a law enforcement officer. He remains in the Monroe County Jail. His trial is slated for later this year.
His wife suffered six broken ribs and severe injuries to both her arms. She declined a request for an interview.