When two law enforcement officers were shot down Monday helping to serve a warrant on Florida’s Gulf Coast, it stunned a state already mourning police deaths in Miami and added to a grim tally for the nation: 11 officers shot in five states in a 24-hour period, two of them fatally.
For the month, the toll on police came to 14 fatalities, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

“That’s not normal,” said Steven Groeninger, a spokesman for the group. “It kind of seems like law enforcement, because of their uniform, have a target on their back.”

Miami-Dade County Detective Roger Castillo, 41, of Davie, and Detective Amanda Haworth, 44, of Miramar, were killed Thursday by a murder suspect they were trying to arrest. That suspect, Johnny Sims, 22, was killed by another detective, Oscar Plascenia, during the shootout in Liberty City.

The officers were remembered Monday at a funeral and laid to rest at Vista Memorial Gardens in Miami Lakes.

News of a St. Petersburg shooting added to the grief already palpable among the thousands gathered at AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami to say farewell to the fallen officers.

In the second shooting, St. Petersburg Police Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz were slain while helping other officers serve a warrant on a man with a long criminal history.

A U.S. marshal and an undercover St. Petersburg detective went to a home to arrest Hydra Lacy Jr., 39, on an aggravated battery charge. When they learned Lacy was in the attic with a weapon, they summoned backup.

Officials said Yaslowitz and Baitinger responded. Yaslowitz was just getting off his night shift. Twenty-two minutes later, gunfire broke out.

When it was over, Baitinger and Yaslowitz were dead and Lacy – the brother of Jeff Lacy, former International Boxing Federation super middleweight champion – lay dead as well, either by his own hand or police bullets. A U.S. marshal whose name was not released, was shot twice but was doing fine, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Tom Figmik said.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund said in a statement that 14 law officers have been slain in the opening weeks of 2011 and 11 officers – including Yaslowitz and Baitinger – shot in a 24-hour period.

The group said the deaths came after a “devastating spike” in law enforcement deaths last year, when 162 officers were killed in the line of duty. That was up from 117 in 2009. Of the 162 officers, 61 were shot, an increase of 24 percent from 2009.

On Sunday, a man opened fire inside a Detroit police precinct, wounding four officers, including a commander, before he was shot and killed by police. The officers’ injuries were not considered life-threatening, Police Chief Ralph Godbee said.

Also on Sunday, sheriff’s deputies in Washington state were shot at a Walmart while responding to a call reporting a suspicious person, according to the memorial group. Police officers in both Indianapolis and Lincoln City, Ore., were critically injured in shootings during traffic stops.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd said in a news release. “The violent events of the past 24 hours in Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Oregon and Washington have been detrimental to America’s peace officers, taking the lives of two and injuring several others. We must do everything in our power to stop these senseless and heinous crimes against our law enforcement personnel.”

This story was written with information from The Associated Press and staff reports.

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SLAIN HEROES: Photos of slain Miami-Dade Police Detectives Roger Castillo and Amanda Haworth were projected on the wall of a downtown Miami building for the funeral Monday of the officers killed while they attempted to serve an arrest warrant on a murder suspect in Liberty City. JAMES FORBES/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES