Daytona Beach, FL – A police chief is furious and a congressman has apologized after he tweeted private information about the medical condition and family of a wounded Daytona Beach police officer.
Othal Wallace, 29, shot 26-year-old Daytona Beach Police Officer Jason Raynor in the head just before 9 p.m. on June 23 when the officer responded to a report of a suspicious incident at 133 Kingston Avenue, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
The officer checked out at the scene over his radio, but stopped responding to other units shortly thereafter, WJAX reported.
Additional officers raced to the scene and found the officer lying on the pavement with a gunshot wound to his head.
They rushed Officer Raynor to Halifax Health Medical Center and he was immediately taken into surgery.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said that Wallace was likely going to try to kill any law enforcement officer he encountered, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
“I think this was going to happen. In my opinion any cop that stopped him was going to get it, he was going to try to kill,” Sheriff Chitwood told reporters at a press conference on Thursday. “This poor kid [the officer] just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
After a large-scale manhunt that expanded into multiple states, the gunman was found on property belonging to a black paramilitary group in Georgia and taken into custody.
“Othal Wallace was located hiding in a tree house,” Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young told reporters at a press conference at 5 a.m. on June 26. “In the tree house with Wallace was multiple flash bangs, rifle plates, body armor, two rifles, two handguns, and several boxes of ammunition.”
Chief Young said the tree house where 29-year-old Wallace was located was on a three-acre property that belonged to the Not F—king Around Coalition (NFAC), a black nationalist paramilitary organization, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
The police chief said Officer Raynor was continuing to fight for his life with his family by his side, but has not released much additional information about the officer or his family, out of respect for their privacy.
But those efforts were for naught because a Florida congressman violated the wounded hero’s privacy by tweeting about it after he was given a private update, WFTV reported.
U.S. Representative Michael Waltz (R-Florida) shared on social media on Thursday that Officer Raynor was “speaking and opening his eyes.”
Waltz tweeted that Chief Young had updated him on the wounded hero’s condition and called it “nothing short of a miracle,” WFTV reported.
The congressman posted that Officer Raynor’s mother had left the hospital for the first time in weeks because she was feeling more comfortable about her son’s condition.
But the elected official hadn’t been authorized to share any of that information publicly, WFTV reported.
Chief Young blasted Waltz on social media for overstepping.
“If I or @DaytonaBchPD intended to give an update on Officer Raynor’s status we would have done so ourselves! @michaelgwaltz had NO RIGHT to tweet this! I apologize to the Raynor family for this egregious violation of their trust. This is nothing more than politics at its best,” the police chief wrote.
His post has since been deleted.
Waltz responded almost immediately to the attack from Chief Young and apologized for letting the cat out of the bag and said he had good intentions, WFTV reported.
“My sincerest apologies to the Raynor family and @DaytonaBchPD,” the congressman tweeted. “I was excited at the prospect of good news for Officer Raynor and did not intend to share info that wasn’t meant to be released. Continuing to pray for a speedy recovery.”
My sincerest apologies to the Raynor family and @DaytonaBchPD. I was excited at the prospect of good news for Officer Raynor and did not intend to share info that wasn’t meant to be released. Continuing to pray for a speedy recovery. https://t.co/6Dj6Ce7VGL
— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) July 9, 2021
Chief Young has described Officer Raynor as having a “heart of gold,” WFTV reported.
He said the officer first joined Daytona Beach police in 2015, but then left to join the Port Orange Police Department in October of 2016.
Officer Raynor returned to DBPD in February of 2019, WFTV reported.
Port Orange police posted a message to Facebook following the shooting that called the wounded hero “an exemplary officer” who had maintained friendships with many of the department’s officers and staff.