John Goepferich, 61, of Lake Wales.

JURY VERDICT: Lake Wales man convicted of attempting to murder police officers

John Goepferich lured Lake Wales Police Officers to his house and intended to kill them.

Upon their arrival, Goepferich immediately began shooting at them – unloading more than 25 rounds in a 30-minute shootout that would injure two officers.

Assistant State Attorney Amy Smith holds up the gun Goepferich used to shoot at Lake Wales Police Officers. Jurors deliberated for about seven hours Friday before finding him guilty of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.

After about seven hours of deliberation Friday, jurors found Goepferich guilty of six counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, attempted manslaughter with a firearm, attempted death of a police dog and misuse of 911.

It started with a fake 911 call Goepferich placed about 5:45 p.m. on March 5, 2015.

Assistant State Attorney Amy Smith told jurors Goepferich told dispatch he’d heard shots fired when he had not.

When the 911 call was played in court, the operator asked Goepferich questions to better assess the situation. He replied with, “I think you just need to send the police.”

Officers John Schwarze and Matthew Rhoden heard three gunshots when they arrived, and Schwarze noticed that one of the windows was broken. That was when Schwarze saw Goepferich peer through the window, point a gun at him and fire three rounds.

Schwarze immediately called in an active shooter and requested backup while taking cover behind an oak tree. Goepferich exited his house and walked toward the tree, continuing to fire rounds.

Schwarze was struck by one of the bullets, but his duty belt stopped it.

Officer Benjamin Metz arrived and crouched near a hedgeline at the north end of the property. Schwarze saw Goepferich move toward the hedge and fire at Metz.

Metz heard Goepferich’s bullets whistling through the bushes toward him when he felt one strike his neck.

John Goepferich, 61, of Lake Wales.

In court Friday, Metz told the jury that four words began echoing in his head: “I’m going to die.”

Metz fired three rounds at Goepferich before safely retreating to his vehicle. The bullet hit him just above his vest and traveled through his neck, exiting his back.

Goepferich was eventually taken down by Schwarze, and he was immediately transported to the hospital to be treated.

The defense claimed that the reason Goepferich shot at the officers is because he’d lost all hope and wanted to commit suicide by cop.

Smith rebutted this by stating that Goepferich could have simply walked out of the house brandishing a weapon.

“But that’s not what happened,” she said during closing statements, adding that Goepferich shot at officers from the cover of his home. “He intended to kill any officer that responded to his call that day.”

“When a man points a gun at another man, pulls the trigger and shoots, his intent is to kill,” Smith said.

Before the jury began deliberating, Smith also reminded them of the officers’ testimonies: “They didn’t know if they were going to live or die that day. They had to stand there for 25 minutes and think, ‘Is this going to be the last day I protect and serve … the last day that I live … the last day I get to see my family?’”

“People live in pain and in sadness, but that is not a justification for the attempted murder of a law enforcement officer,” Smith said.