LAKE WALES, Fla. (TheBlaze/AP) -- Authorities say a 59-year-old man who called 911 asking for help shot at police officers as they arrived at his central Florida home.
Lake Wales Police Chief Chris Velasquez says officers John Schwarze and Benjamin Metz were wounded in a gun battle that lasted about 15 minutes Tuesday evening. Velazquez says that "by the grace of God," the officers weren't killed.
Velasquez told WFLA-TV that a “miracle” occurred when officer Schwarze was hit by gunfire. The cop’s duty belt reportedly helped “dodge” the bullet that was going right towards his stomach.
“His duty belt saved his life,” the police chief said. Here's the "miracle" duty belt:
Picture of duty belt where officer was shot. Chief calls it a miracle bullet hit him here. pic.twitter.com/NzzpaqclB0— Jennifer Titus (@jenntitus10) March 4, 2015
This is the duty belt where Lake Wales police officer was shot. A miracle bullet hit him there. pic.twitter.com/Pse0xzZiEb— Jennifer Titus (@jenntitus10) March 4, 2015
Velasquez says the suspect, John Goepferich, was shot by police officers. His injuries were not life-threatening. Officers don't know why he started shooting.
Preliminary reports indicate Goepferich told dispatchers shots had been fired at his house. About 50 police officers and sheriff's deputies responded.
Goepferich faces multiple counts of attempted murder of law enforcement officers. He couldn't be reached for comment, and it wasn't known whether he had hired an attorney.