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Date of Issue: April 12, 2007

Arrest made in officer shooting

police mug
James Perkins

Authorities arrested one man and continued their search for three other people in connection with the shooting of an off-duty Holmes Beach police officer.

Officer James Cumston suffered a minor fragment wound April 4 as he pursued the suspects he saw attempting to burglarize a neighbor’s home in east Manatee.

On April 5, an arrest was made in Winder, Ga., where James Perkins, 19, surrendered and was taken into custody on a warrant for attempted murder.

Meanwhile, Cumston was doing well Friday and had another day off, according to Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine.

"He did a great job," said Romine, who rushed east from the Island when word of the incident was heard over the police scanner. "It’s just one of those situations where you’ve got to be prepared all the time."

"He’s an excellent performer of his duties," said Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger the day after the incident. "I’m really proud of his actions yesterday."

The sound of dogs barking alerted Cumston, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, to a burglary taking place at his neighbor’s home in the 2000 block of 36th Avenue East, according to a report from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

 Cumston confronted two suspects. When they took off in a car believed to contain two other people, Cumston followed in his Chevy Trailblazer, calling 911 as he pursued them, according to the sheriff’s report.

In the 3500 block of 27th Street Court East, the suspects began firing their guns at Cumston. They fired again near the intersection of 27th Street East and 36th Avenue East.

In the 3200 block of 27th Street East, the suspects fired again at Cumston, who fired back.

The sheriff’s office said Cumston lost the suspects in the area of 36th Avenue East and 17th Street East.

The officer suffered a minor wound to his leg when he was struck by fragments from a bullet, possibly one that struck and pierced the front window of his vehicle. The 48-year-old officer did not require hospitalization.

"He’s doing fine," said Romine.

Initially, the sheriff’s office said deputies were looking for two suspects, described as males in their late teens or early 20s.

On April 5, the search had widened to four people - two adults and two teenagers.

Also, schools in the vicinity - Samoset Elementary and Southeast High - were put on lockdown immediately following the report to the sheriff’s office as a precaution.

Authorities, in patrol cars, on foot and with a helicopter, searched throughout the afternoon for the suspects and their vehicle.

The vehicle, a dark Dodge Neon with a Florida tag number of X439WR, was found that evening under a tarp at a residence in the 3600 block of 19th Street East, Bradenton.

Perkins was found in Georgia and arrested by deputies with the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office, according to a news release. He was being held in Barrow County pending extradition to Manatee County.

Detectives believe Perkins was driving the Dodge and fired shots at Cumston. Detectives are still working on identifying another person in the car who also fired shots at Cumston. They believe there were two juveniles who were not involved in the shooting in the back seat of the car.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 941-747-3011, or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.