MIAMI – The hunt for one of the three suspected deer poachers who are accused of attacking a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer in Polk County, ended on Sunday night in Hialeah, deputies said on Monday.
The three men were in two all-terrain vehicles on Saturday night at the property line of the Avon Park Air Force Range and the private River Ranch hunting club area, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The FWC officer suspected the men were poaching deer after he saw someone shining a spotlight and heard a shot was fired, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. He got out of his truck and approached the hunters.
“Luckily, he was able to disarm them with their shotgun and their hunting rifle, in a pretty quick order, which probably saved his life,” FWC Major Roger Young said on Sunday adding the officer was able to secure the weapons before the attack.
State and local authorities identified the suspected deer poachers from Miami-Dade County as Rodrigo Alberto Mato La Rosa, 27, Michel Amalfi, 45, and Lazaro Milian, 50.
Judd said Amalfi and Mato La Rosa jumped on the officer and started to beat him down before he could identify them. Young said it was three against one. Milian fled during the fight, Judd said.
The officer “defended himself the best way he could ... He did what he could to stay alive ... they got the side-by-side, they struck him on the way out,” Young said.
The suspected hunters became the hunted after the injured FWC officer called for help, and reported that his attackers had fled to the River Ranch property.
Investigators in a helicopter found a submerged ATV. Soon after, deputies on the ground found Amalfi’s mobile phone near the ATV, Judd said.
The mobile phone GPS data helped detectives to track Amalfi and Milian on Sunday at the River Ranch campsite, Judd said.
It took longer to catch the third suspect, who the officer said had been riding in the side-by-side ATV with Amalfi. Detectives arrested Mato La Rosa on Sunday night in Hialeah.
Amalfi, Milian, and Mato La Rosa are each facing charges of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.
Amalfi is also facing charges of tampering with evidence and keeping a nuisance injurious to health. Milian is also facing charges of unauthorized possession of a crate, and he also has a pending warrant for a violation of probation on a grand theft case in Miami-Dade County.