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Officials: Sexual battery suspect shot, killed by officers in Lakeland

2-26-2015 Florida:

LAKELAND -- An armed man was shot and killed by Lakeland police officers Thursday evening, officials said.

David Cuevas, 42, was shot and killed in front of the Starbucks and Five Guys Burgers and Fries located on Socrum Loop Road, according to Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross.

Gross said Cuevas was suspected in an armed sexual battery and armed kidnapping involving his ex-girlfriend.

The events that led to Cuevas' shooting began in January, when police responded to the Suburban Extended Stay motel on Williamstown Boulevard regarding a disturbance.

Police spoke to Cuevas' ex-girlfriend, who said she had been raped at gunpoint by Cuevas. The woman said she and Cuevas met in Philadelphia and began dating for a year before moving to Lakeland in December 2014. At the end of the month, the woman and Cuevas broke up and he left town.

On Jan. 25, Cuevas returned to Lakeland, and on the following day, met his ex-girlfriend at the hotel room. Police said Cuevas told her he had a gift for her, then pulled out a handgun and a knife and sexually battered the woman.

Police said Cuevas then left the hotel and was suspected to be heading back to Pennsylvania.

Lakeland police obtained a warrant for Cuevas' arrest on charges of armed kidnappnig, armed sexual battery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Police said they were also trying to obtain additional charges for stalking and failure to register as a sex offender.

Cuevas was arrested in Pennsylvania on Jan. 28 and allowed to bond out of jail for $35,000. Lakeland police said they do not know why he was allowed to bond out of jail on those charges.

Cuevas then fled from Pennsylvania, which reactivated the original charges.

On Thursday, Cuevas began texting his ex-girlfriend, who immediately contacted police. Detectives said they sent a text message to Cuevas using the woman's phone and convinced him that he was talking to his ex-girlfriend.

Police said that at one point, he sent a text message saying, "I'll make all the pain go away."

Detectives arranged for Cuevas to meet who he thought was the victim at Lake Gibson Park at about 5:30 p.m. When he arrived, though, detectives pulled into the park, turned on their emergency lights and tried to take him into custody.

Cuevas got out of his car and ran from the park towards Socrum Loop Road. Police said the detectives ordered him to stop, then saw him reach into his waistband to pull out a gun.

That's when police said the two detectives opened fire on Cuevas, hitting him several times.

Cuevas was pronounced dead at the scene. Detectives said they also noticed what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his leg that they believe happened when he pulled the gun from his waistband.

The Medical Examiner will determine how many times Cuevas was shot during the autopsy, which will be conducted Friday. A determination will also be made about the apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The detectives were not injured. They have been identified as Detective Nicholas Pollice and Detective Michael Lewis. In accordance with department policy, the officers will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

The investigation continues. ..Source.. by Saundra Weathers

Police: 'Obsessed' sex offender killed by cops had 725 bullets, duct tape

Sex offender David Cuevas, according to authorities, amassed an array of weapons and planned to attack a woman he was obsessed with before he was killed Thursday in a gun battle with Lakeland police last week.

In his Nissan Xterra, police found 725 9mm rounds, leg restraints, two pair of handcuffs, a knife and binoculars, Lakeland police said today.

In his nearby hotel room, the 42-year-old had rope, duct tape, chains, a stun gun, and leg restraints.

He had his victim's name recently tattooed on his body, "indicating his obsession with her," Lakeland police Sgt. Gary Gross said.

"A search of Cuevas revealed that he had four loaded magazines for his 9mm handgun in his rear pocket,'' Gross said. "It is apparent that this violent offender was intent on committing yet another senseless crime which possibly would have been the abduction and murder of the victim had not our detectives intervened."

Cuevas, wanted for sexually battering his ex-girlfriend was shot and killed in a busy Lakeland parking lot Thursday as he fled from officers and attempted to pull a gun from his waistband, police said.

The two detectives, Nicholas Pollice, 33, and Michael Lewis, 28, ordered him to stop multiple times.

The officers say they saw Cuevas attempt to pull a handgun from his waistband. The two detectives then shot Cuevas seven times, Gross said.

"The shooting can be described as a running gun battle as detectives gave chase and observed Cuevas turn and pull a loaded firearm from his waist band," Gross said. "While running, the detectives fired a total of 18 rounds hitting Cuevas 7 times. No one else was injured during this incident."

He was pronounced dead in the parking lot.

Officers said Cuevas also shot himself once in the leg while trying to pull the handgun from his waist.

The Lakeland Police Department said both officers were not injured during the incident and have been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Both officers have been working for the department since November 2011.

The department had four officer-involved shootings in 2014, including three in December. This is the first one of 2015.

According to court records, Cuevas has an extensive criminal history that dates back to 1998 and spans from California to Pennsylvania. His rap sheet includes: rape, false imprisonment, sexual assault, corruption of minors, simple assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, interference with custody of children and corruption of minors. He is listed as a sex offender out of Pennsylvania.

After the sexual battery warrant was issued in Florida, Cuevas fled to Pennsylvania, where he was arrested on the outstanding warrant. Cuevas refused extradition to Florida, and was inexplicably released on $35,000 bail, Gross said.

"There is no additional information at this time as to why David Cuevas was allowed to bond out in Pennsylvania,'' Gross said.

Cuevas started making his way back to Lakeland, sending his girlfriend threatening text messages along the way, who then contacted Lakeland Police, Gross said.

Police took her phone and spent about three hours texting Cuevas pretending to be his girlfriend, arranging a meeting in a park near Lake Gibson.

Cuevas got to the park around 5:30 p.m. and found two detectives waiting for him. Cuevas fled toward a busy Five Guys parking lot on North Socrum Loop Road, Gross said.

Christal Hayes contributed reporting to this story.

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