Suspect in Orangeburg officer's murder captured in Florida - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Suspect in Orangeburg officer's murder captured in Florida

Mikal D. Mahdi Mikal D. Mahdi
Capt. Jim Myers Capt. Jim Myers
Capt. Myers truck in Florida Capt. Myers truck in Florida

(Columbia) July 22, 2004 - The search is over for a man wanted in the shooting death of an off-duty Orangeburg police officer.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart says 21-year-old Mikal Deen Mahdi of Richmond, Virginia, was arrested around 7:00 Wednesday night in Satellite Beach, Florida, south of Cocoa Beach.

Chief Stewart says Mahdi was spotted driving Captain James Myers' four-door unmarked police pickup truck. Investigators suspected Mahdi had taken the officer's 2003 white 2500 Dodge Ram truck that was loaded with guns and a bulletproof vest.

Stewart says after Florida authorities stopped the vehicle, Mahdi jumped out of the truck and ran. Police dogs and officers chased him and finally captured on the fifth floor of a building. Stewart says he's relieved to know Mahdi is in police custody.

The 56-year-old Myers was found dead Sunday night. He will be laid to rest Thursday in Orangeburg.

Authorities already had been searching for Mahdi after an alleged Columbia carjacking at gunpoint Sunday morning. That SUV was found less than a mile from where Myers was killed in Calhoun County.

A Columbia FBI spokesman tells WIS News 10 the agency also issued a warrant for Mahdi in connection with the carjacking incident. The warrant allowed the FBI to assist state and local police to bring Mahdi's fugitive status to the attention of law enforcement nationwide.

Police also have issued a warrant for Mahdi in the deadly shooting and robbery of a Winston-Salem, North Carolina, convenience store clerk, 29-year-old Christpher Jason Boggs. A law enforcement source tells WIS News 10 one of the reasons they believe Mahdi is involved in the North Carolina murder is a set of car keys.

Boggs' car keys were reportedly recovered from the vehicle Mahdi is said to have carjacked in Columbia. WIS News 10 has not yet received an official statement about the keys from investigators.

Satellite Beach Police Chief Lionel Cote says the initial call came from another motorist, "We understand a driver complained that this other driver was driving recklessly."

Cote says Mahdi made an attempt to get away from the police, "As he jumped from the vehicle as it was moving, he took with him a .223 Ruger that we later found was the property of the officer that he killed."

Earlier police reports say Mahdi was believed to have body armor and a high-powered weapon that he got from Myers truck. He also reportedly threatened to kill any officers who got in his way.

The chief says three police units were behind him and one was a K-9 unit. They had him at gunpoint, ordered him to drop the weapon and hit the ground. Cote says the dogs were a deciding factor in Mahdi not shooting, "He told us he decided not to shoot us, shoot the two officers that had confronted him, because the gun was set to a three shot burst. He felt he wouldn't be able to get both officers and the canine with the configuration." 

Chief Cote says Mahdi then dropped his weapon and tried to escape on foot. Mahdi was able to elude officers briefly, "We chased him almost a half hour of which he got out of our sight a few times."

The dog picked up the scent, and Mahdi was tracked to a nearby time share condo, where a detective spotted him on a third floor balcony. He was pursued to the fifth floor and captured without further incident.

Mahdi is currently being held in the Brevard County lockup where Calhoun County Sheriff's Deputies and SLED agents will interview him before taking him back to the Palmetto State. State Law Enforcement Division agents will also process Myers' truck and bring it back to South Carolina.

Calhoun County Sheriff Thomas Summers isn't sure when Mahdi will be back in South Carolina, but he hopes it's by the end of this week.

Cote says officers were unaware Mahdi was wanted on two murders in two different states until after the arrest. They discovered he was so dangerous that WIS News 10 is told the arresting police officer actually thanked the suspect for not shooting him.

A spokesman for Captain Myers' family told News 10 they were informed about the arrest by SLED during a Wednesday evening memorial service. SLED Chief Robert Stewart says the family was "very relieved."

A woman may face charges in Lexington County after filing a carjacking report Wednesday morning that led to the launch of a search there.  

updated 8:01am by BrettWitt

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