OPD mistakenly kills UCF officerBy Jay Hamburg, Erin Cox andSusan Jacobson
September25, 2005, 12:32 AM EDT
Apre-game party before the Universityof Central Floridafootball home
openerturned deadly Saturday when an Orlandopolice officer shot and killed
anundercover university police officer working with state agents to stop
Thedead UCF officer was identified as Mario Jenkins, a four-year veteran
withthe university police who was in his late 20s.
Hewas shot by Dennis Smith, a reserve officer for the Orlando Police
Departmentwho had retired after 25 years on the force. Smith was placed on
administrativeleave Saturday night, standard procedure in all shootings by
AUCF student also was wounded in the fracas and was taken to Orlando
RegionalMedical Center.He was identified as Mike Young, in his early 20s,
byRachel Neal, an 18-year-old UCF student who said Young was her boyfriend.
Shesaid Young was walking to the portable toilets when he saw a fight and
triedto break it up. Neal was nearby when she heard two shots and saw Young
lyingon the ground.
Nealsaid that Young is studying to be a special-education teacher.
"Itwas devastating," said junior Nicole Jorgensen, 22, who watched the
sceneunfold as a brawl turned into a deadly shooting.
"Everyone'spretty shaken up," said 18-year-old Jon Negrini who comforted
severalfriends so upset that they were unable to speak. "We're leaving on a
busback to campus."
Theincident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. outside the Florida Citrus Bowl
inan area where students were tailgating and partying.
Officialdetails were sketchy late Saturday, but police and spectators said
Jenkinsapparently confronted a group of students who were drinking. The
students,some said, turned belligerent.
Witnessessaid Jenkins pulled out his badge and his gun and fired the
weapon.Some said he fired the gun into the air, and one person who claimed
tohave seen the incident said Jenkins shot a student in the leg.
MikeMcCormick, 22, a 2003 UCF graduate, said he saw the incident. He said
anundercover officer was investigating underage drinking when a scuffle
began.He said Young, a UCF fan, grabbed the undercover officer. Others said
Youngtried to stop a fight.
McCormick,who is from Jacksonville Beach,said Jenkins pulled out his gun
andfired several shots.
Auniformed Orlandoofficer who was patrolling on a bicycle saw Jenkins fire
"Theuniformed cop didn't know what was going on," McCormick said. "Hejust
sawsomebody holding a gun, and he shot the undercover cop three times in
theback -- boom, boom, boom."
UCFPresident John Hitt expressed sorrow about the incident.
"It'sgoing to change a lot of lives," he said.
Hittadded that the university will study the program that sends officers
suchas Jenkins undercover to stop illegal drinking.
TroyWilliamson, a spokesman for the UCF Police Department, said Jenkins
frequentlyworked with fraternities, many of which were tailgating in the
areawhere the incident happened. Jenkins began work on "Operation Knight
Watch"about 2 p.m. Saturday.
Hewas assisted by six other UCF officers and seven agents with the state
Divisionof Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco to cut down on underage
SeveralOrlando policeofficers also were patrolling in the area.
"Peoplesay, 'University police, who are they?' We have to remind them we
areofficers of the law, and we have a job to do," Williamson said.
Williamsonsaid the department's 50 officers are a close-knit community now
devastatedby the shooting.
"It'sgoing to be a black time for a couple weeks," Williamson said. On-duty
andoff-duty officers gathered at the hospital as soon as they heard of the
shooting."It's pretty tough right now. It's pretty awful."
TheFlorida Department of Law Enforcement, which is investigating the
shooting,would not release any details of what happened, partly because
investigatorsare relying on statements from at least two busloads of
"Whenthe dust settles, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will have
ananswer to what happened tonight," said FDLE spokesman Geo Morales.
"It'stragic, and it's sad, and I'm real sorry that we have a University of
Central Florida officerthat was fatally wounded in this incident," said
Sgt.Barbara Jones, a spokeswoman for the Orlando Police Department.
NicoleJorgensen of Melbournesaid the incident was traumatic. Though she
didn'tknow any of the people involved, she said she saw Young, the student
whowas shot, wrestling with Jenkins.
"The[undercover] officer pulled out his badge and gun. This one guy
wouldn'tsurrender," Jorgensen said. "He shot three times in the air.
Anotherofficer shot the [undercover] guy. . . . It's pretty freaky. You
don'tthink you would see this at a UCF game."
EyewitnessJason Pfeiffer of Orlando, a 2003 UCF graduate, said the entire
"Therenever should have been a gun pulled. It was excessive, no question
aboutit," Pfeiffer said. "Come on, it's a college-football game, and
they'retrying to arrest people for underage drinking. It's sad. This whole
thingcould have been avoided."
The undercover guy was stupid to pull his gun and shoot it in the air.