Convict Sought in Deaths of 2 Florida Police Officers
TAMPA, Fla. -- Police were searching Tuesday for the man charged with fatally shooting two Tampa police officers during an early morning traffic stop of a car that didn't have a visible license plate.
Officer David Curtis pulled over the red Toyota Camry around 2:15 a.m. and called for backup after a background check revealed the male passenger in the car was wanted on a misdemeanor charge for writing a worthless check in Jacksonville.
The two officers approached the passenger side of the vehicle and six minutes later a witness called 911 to report they had been shot.
Curtis and Officer Jeffrey Kocab, both 31, were pronounced dead at the hospital.
The woman who police believe was driving the car, 22-year-old Cortnee Nicole Brantly, was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon for questioning, but she was not arrested.
Another individual, Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, was still being sought by police, but was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and a single count of felony possession of a firearm.
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said "we know who he is and we're going to find him."Morris was released from prison in April after serving two years for cocaine possession and sales. He also served about nine months on other cocaine possession charges in 2004, according to prison records.
The St. Petersburg Times reported that in 2006, Morris was found not guilty of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, attempted robbery and possession of a short-barreled shotgun.
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor and Mayor Pam Iorio announced Kocab's death at a news conference at the hospital where the officers were taken. Dozens of somber officers filled the hospital.
Kocab had been on the force for 14 months. His wife is nine months pregnant with their first child, police said.
Curtis, a father of four boys, had nearly four years with the department. He remained on life support as doctors prepared to harvest his organs at the family's request.
"They both said how much Dave and Jeff loved being a Tampa police officer. They both said their loved ones loved going to work everyday...that it was the best job in the world,"Mayor Pam Iorio said of the officers' families.
"It's just been heart wrenching as the family members have said goodbye to their loved ones and then it's been heart wrenching to see the officers and how much they respect them,"she said.
This is the region's second incident of law enforcers being shot in less than a week. Two Polk County deputies were shot early Friday in Lakeland after stopping a man riding a bicycle. They are expected to recover.