Seven bullets couldn't stop Orange County
She and another injured patrol officer outgunned three home invaders
who had ambushed them.
By Pedro Ruz Gutierrez, Henry Pierson Curtis and Rich McKay
May 6, 2004, 11:00 AM EDT
PINE HILLS -- Wounded and worried about three children a few feet
away, Orange County Deputy Sheriff Jennifer
Fulford emptied her .45-caliber pistol and then reloaded during
a fierce shootout Wednesday with three home invaders in Pine Hills.
An assailant's bullet hit her gun hand, forcing her to use her left
hand to continue fighting.
Before the shooting ended, she and Deputy Sheriff Dwayne Martin
had killed one of the attackers and shot another one in the head.
A third was arrested when other deputies arrived.
"I heard she went through one clip and reloaded, which is totally
unbelievable," said Steve Jones, chief spokesman for the Sheriff's
Office. "It's just by the grace of God we're not burying two
Fulford, 31, was shot at least seven times in her hand, arms and
legs before she could return fire. Martin, 30, was hit once in his
shoulder during the gunbattle at a home where authorities later
found at least 340 pounds of marijuana.
Both deputies were in stable condition after surgery at Orlando
Regional Medical Center.
Fulford and Martin rushed to the home on Medford Drive after a frantic
911 call at 7:50 a.m. from an 8-year-old boy, whose mother had been
forced into their home by the would-be robbers.
When deputies arrived, the suspects made the woman go outside to
tell Fulford and Martin everything was OK.
Instead the woman told deputies about the attackers and begged Fulford
to rescue her children who were inside her vehicle in the garage.
As Fulford approached the van, she was ambushed, and the shooting
started, Jones said.
Both deputies trained their semiautomatic Glock pistols on George
Jenkins, 25, and John Dzibinski, 25. Jenkins was killed, and Dzibinski
was in critical condition Wednesday evening with a gunshot wound
to the head. A third man identified as Shaun Byrom, 20, was taken
into custody and was arrested on charges of felony murder. All three
were in Central Florida from South Carolina.
The boy and his 2-year-old twin siblings stayed in the van during
the gunbattle. Neither they nor their mother were hurt. Sheriff's
officials did not identify the woman.
Deputies later went to the Enterprise Motel on Vine Street in Kissimmee
where the South Carolina residents had been staying and seized two
AK-47 semiautomatic assault rifles.
Those weapons match several used during a similar home invasion
in North Charleston, S.C., police reports show.
Spencer Pryor, a spokesman for the North Charleston Police Department,
on Wednesday said Jenkins and Dzibinski were wanted on charges of
first-degree burglary, armed robbery and possession of a firearm
while committing a violent crime Jan. 6.
In that crime, the suspects fled in a burgundy Honda Passport that
matches the sport utility vehicle found Wednesday outside the home
that is owned by Clinton Allen. The South Carolina victims also
reported the suspects carried semiautomatic handguns and an AK-47.
In Pine Hills on Wednesday morning, bursts of gunfire rattled the
neighborhood shortly before 8 a.m.
"It sounded like 10 or 15 shots, going back and forth,"
said 13-year-old Alexander Roundtree, a neighbor who watched the
shooting unfold from his window across the street. "Then I
saw this man fall down. He was the man in the white shirt. He didn't
Sheriff's investigators were stunned when they found the marijuana
and said the drug appeared to be the motive for the attack. It also
cast suspicion on what initially seemed a random act of violence
against a mother and her three kids.
Sgt. John Allen, who heads the sheriff's homicide squad and is no
relation to Clinton Allen, said the suspects had loaded some marijuana
into their vehicle when deputies arrived. Deputies later used a
search warrant to confiscate more marijuana in the garage area and
inside the home. No drug-related charges were filed.
Sgt. Allen said late Wednesday that an unidentified person helped
the suspects set up the robbery of drugs at the house.
Investigators said the mother was leaving the house to take her
son to school when the three men burst out of the SUV and forced
her back inside her home. Her alert son then picked up her cell
phone and dialed 911.
"Apparently one of the heroes in this story is the 8-year-old
boy," said Jim Solomons, a sheriff's spokesman. "He was
able to get his mom's cell phone and make a critical call."
Minutes before the shooting, residents reported seeing the burgundy
SUV in their neighborhood.
Near the intersection of Hastings Street and Balboa Drive, the driver
spoke to a school crossing guard and then waved down a local resident
to ask for directions to Medford Drive.
"He asked me where the street was and I said, 'I don't know
for sure,' " said the woman, who would identify herself only
A burgundy SUV could be seen parked backward in the driveway outside
the Allens' house after the shooting.
Two large bags that appeared to be plastic lay on the ground next
to the vehicle. Neighbors said deputies pulled them from the SUV.
Each bag contained a large amount of marijuana, sheriff's officials
The emergency prompted the sheriff's SWAT team to surround the house
and evacuate neighbors, who later reported seeing tear gas fired
into the house.
"We saw the bodies getting dragged out," said Crystal
Cosson, a friend of Tonya's who described two wounded suspects being
carried by deputies.
The single-story house is the only one in the neighborhood with
burglar bars covering every outside window and door. Clinton Allen
is a friendly but quiet man, a commercial painter who keeps an immaculate
yard, neighbors said.
A woman, who identified herself as Clinton Allen's sister but did
not give her name, said her brother was visiting Jamaica on Wednesday.
Her brother had lived on Medford Drive for more than five years.
He has four children, she said.
As deputies searched the area for other possible suspects, several
nearby schools were locked down for about two hours. They were Hiawassee,
Oak Hill, Pine Hills and Pinewood elementary schools and Robinswood
Althea Jackson, Hiawassee's principal, said her staff locked all
the doors and kept children in their classrooms but didn't tell
the 700 students anything about the incident.
Fulford has been a deputy since 2001 and works as a road-patrol
officer. She's a field training officer and was training another
deputy, Jason Gainor, at the time of the shooting. Gainor was not
injured; it's not clear if he was involved in the shootout. Martin
joined the agency in 1999 and also is a patrol deputy. Last year,
he spent several months in Iraq as a reservist.
August 28, 2005
Suspect shot, killed at scene of robbery
Deputy fired fatal shot after robber aimed gun at her
By John Tuohy and Raygan Swan
A Marion County sheriff's deputy fatally shot a man who investigators
say was menacing a family during a home invasion early Saturday.
A man believed to be an accomplice continued to elude deputies late
A third man who deputies believe knew of the residential robbery
on the Northeastside was arrested nine hours later after a two-hour
standoff at his home nearby, police said.
The shooting happened in the 5900 block of Linton Lane, where Deputies
Nicole Hopkins and Myron Minor had responded to a 1:30 a.m. call
of a robbery in progress at a house.
When deputies approached the front door, they saw a man with a gun
tying up a woman in a front room, said Marion County Sheriff's Sgt.
The officers cracked the door open and ordered the man to drop the
gun, but he ran out the back door. As he fled, another man stepped
into the front room and pointed a gun at Hopkins and Minor, DeHart
The officers, still at the front door, fired three or four shots
at the man inside but did not wound him. That man also ran out the
The deputies ran to the backyard. Hopkins ordered the second man
to stop. The suspect turned and pointed a gun at Hopkins, and the
deputy shot and killed him.
Police would not release the 34-year-old man's name Saturday because
his family had not been notified.
The other suspect at the scene escaped.
Police said the intruders were trying to tie up a family of four
and a family friend.
One of the victims, Brian Melton, 23, was charged with possession
of marijuana when deputies said they found marijuana in his bedroom.
Lt. Chris Boomershine said the robbers were in search of money and
After the fatal shooting, deputies were told that Sam King, 20,
was involved in the home invasion, though he was not at the house.
Deputies went to question King, who was wanted on warrants for unrelated
charges of battery and intimidation, at his home in the 5100 block
of East 64th Street.
King refused to come out of his house, barricading himself, his
girlfriend and their 4-year-old child in a bedroom, police said.
Police called for the SWAT team, who called King. He agreed to release
his girlfriend and child, and minutes later he surrendered, Boomershine
King had not been charged in connection with the home invasion as
of Saturday night but was being held on the charges listed in the
Boomershine said deputies still were investigating whether King,
the shooting victim and the man still being sought were involved
in a series of residential robberies on the Northeastside.
"We are working with Indianapolis police on a number of them,"
According to a search of Sheriff's Department records, King and
Melton have known each other at least four years.
In 2001, Melton told deputies that King and another man attacked
him because they thought he told police they had 2 pounds of marijuana,
according to the records.
Melton told deputies then that he feared for his life because both
men might have guns, the records show.
Melton's parents were reluctant to talk about Saturday's incident.
His mother said the family was traumatized and that her son "has
a good heart."
DeHart said Hopkins has been with the Sheriff's Department for about
He said she probably would take a paid leave of absence while the
shooting is investigated, though it is not required.
Boomershine said Hopkins is the first female deputy in the department's
history to fatally shoot someone in the line of duty.
4 in alleged robber gang suspected in man's killing
By JON FRANK, The Virginian-Pilot
© August 20, 2005
VIRGINIA BEACH — A robbery gang that authorities think operated
undetected for about two years by pretending to be Virginia Beach
police officers raiding drug dealers is suspected of killing a Pungo
man in June.
During preliminary hearings Friday, murder charges were sent to
the grand jury against two of four people accused in the death of
Andrew David Bright, 28, who was shot on June 6 at 2245 Old Pungo
Arrested and charged with the crime were:
Russell Houston Smith Jr. , 22, of the 200 block of Tatem St. in
Knotts Island, N.C.; Steven Daniel Cline, 24, of the 3900 block
of Breezeport Way in Suffolk; Melville Dean Olson, 26, also of the
3900 block of Breezeport Way in Suffolk; and Sarah E. Brandon, 20,
of the 900 block of Tulls Creek Road in Moyock, N.C .
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On Friday, 12 charges each against Cline and Olson were certified
by General District Judge W. Edward Hudgins Jr.
Similar charges against Brandon and Smith are expected to be sent
to the grand jury at preliminary hearings set for Thursday and Sept.
Friday’s hearings shed new light on a crime that rocked the
normally peaceful Pungo section of Virginia Beach.
Bright, an electrician, was a known marijuana dealer, according
to his brother, Mark Bright, 31, who testified during both hearings.
Mark Bright and his wife, Amy, 29, were at their home with Andrew
Bright on the night of the shooting. The intruders, who entered
wearing masks and gloves and carrying guns, bound the couple with
Andrew Bright, who was in an upstairs room, also was bound with
tape. When he tried to escape, he was shot in the back and fell
down a set of stairs in the home.
The gunmen ran out of the house.
Mark Bright testified that he grabbed an antique shotgun he owned
and tried to follow, seeking vengeance for his wounded brother.
“I would have shot them, and I would have killed them,”
Mark Bright testified.
But he soon lost the trail and had to turn back.
His brother, still breathing when Mark Bright returned, died soon
after the shooting.
Virginia Beach police Detective Ray Pickell testified that he interviewed
Olson on June 28 at police headquarters.
During the interview, Pickell said Friday, Olson revealed how he
and his three co-defendants plotted and carried out their assault
on Bright’s residence.
Pickell said Olson gave the following account of the crime:
The four traveled by car from Suffolk to Pungo. Before leaving,
they divided up masks, gloves and weapons – a 9mm Ruger handgun,
an AK-47 assault rifle and a .308 rifle .
They arrived at the parking lot of Capt. George’s restaurant
in Pungo, and the three men got out of the car. Brandon drove away
while Smith, Olson and Cline, on foot, cut through an adjoining
cornfield that led to Bright’s residence.
Smith kicked in the door. The three men entered, wearing masks and
gloves as Smith hollered, “Virginia Beach police.”
The three stole a small amount of money and about 2 pounds of marijuana
before Bright tried to flee and was shot.
After leaving the house, the men contacted Brandon by cell phone
and arranged a rendezvous at a nearby bridge.
They traveled back to Suffolk and divided the stolen money and marijuana.
Also on Friday, a separate preliminary hearing for another defendant
shed further light on the group .
Robbery and abduction charges against Elmer R. Smith III, alleged
to have participated in at least one of the gang’s other home
invasions, were certified to the grand jury.
Police think that Smith, wearing a mask, entered an apartment in
the Linkhorn Bay neighborhood on Feb. 6. He was accompanied, according
to police, by Cline and Russell Smith , who is Elmer Smith’s
One of the residents of the apartment was a cocaine dealer, according
to Richard Inskeep , 20, who testified Friday.
Inskeep said the three men entered the apartment claiming to be
Virginia Beach police officers participating in a raid. They carried
rifles or shotguns with flashlights attached to the barrels, Inskeep
The men left when police sirens sounded, Inskeep said. They stole
a small amount of cash. No one was injured.
Pickell testified that he interviewed Elmer Smith about the crime
in Currituck County, N.C .
Although Smith did not admit to committing the February home invasion,
he told Pickell that he was at the apartment complex at the time
of the crime.
Reach Jon Frank at (757) 222-5122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than a dozen reports note that victims declined to give a statement
or would not contact police for follow-up interviews.
Some victims are hesitant to assist police because they are engaged
in criminal enterprises, Snodgrass said.
According to the reports, in at least 15 of the 78 home invasions,
the victims knew their robbers. At least three cases involved the
theft of drugs that the suspects appeared to know the location of
within the home.
Drug-hunting home invaders were selective about what they took,
such as when two suspects burst into a home at Lake Mead Boulevard
and H Street during the early morning hours of Sept. 23.
The suspects ordered the woman inside to lie on the floor. One punched
her and the other "went straight to the back master bedroom
and opened `weed' drawer. Suspect took marijuana that was hidden
inside cigar box, $500 in cash, and purse," the report states.
"They knew exactly where she kept her marijuana and money.
Suspect left behind a wallet full of money that was on top of dresser."
No arrest was made. Police couldn't get the roommate who owned the
drugs to contact them.
"With the dope dealers, some guy might be buying dope at a
place, and they know the guy's going to have lots of money inside.
So they rip 'em off," Snodgrass said.