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Man arrested for ambushing and shooting officer in the back of his head is the son of a school board member

Prior booking photos for Steve Gallon IV who is accused of shooting an officer in Miami. Source: Twitter

David J. Neal, Sommer Brugal, Charles Rabin, Devoun Cetoute
Miami Herald

Police took the son of a prominent Miami-Dade County School Board member into custody early Thursday after the ambushing and shooting of a police officer as he was making an arrest during a traffic stop, according to multiple law enforcement sources.

Steve Gallon IV, the 32-year-old son of longtime School Board member and former Miami Northwestern High School principal Steve Gallon III, was captured after an all-night manhunt just outside of Miami’s Design District neighborhood, police said.

He was taken into custody without incident after emerging from a home not far from the shooting and before he could drive off.

At a briefing outside police headquarters in Doral on Thursday afternoon, Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez said four others were taken into custody, including the driver of the car that had been stopped before the shooting and three people who police believed were harboring Gallon IV.

“Before we even executed the [search] warrant he came out of the house and was taken into custody,” Ramirez said. “You just can’t control someone’s will to kill or harm a police officer.”

Asked during the briefing to confirm that the shooting suspect is the son of Steven Gallon III, Ramirez said “it’s irrelevant to what happened.”

WPLG Channel 10 first reported Gallon IV had been taken into custody.

Later Thursday night, police released the charges and identities of the quintet:

▪ Steve Gallon IV, 32, charged with attempted second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer with a firearm

▪ Atiba Moore, 30, charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder

▪ Kendrick Jose Watkins, 33, charged with accessory after the fact

▪ Frederick Lee Watkins, 27, charged with accessory after the fact

▪ Andre Darrell Copeland, 47, charged with accessory after the fact

Walking into a planned attack
The Miami-Dade police officer who was shot in the neck area was treated Wednesday night at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center and released Thursday morning. Police hadn’t named the officer, but multiple sources have identified him as Darrion Washington.

Just after 4 p.m. Wednesday, Washington and other officers were surveilling Moore as he drove a black Nissan Maxima in the area of Northwest 43rd Street and Northwest Fifth Avenue.

During the narcotics investigation, Moore caught on that he was being followed and fled — causing police to lose sight of him, an arrest report read.

But Washington was able to catch up to him again and watched as Moore drove slowly past a home three times with three men out front. On the third pass around, the officer was behind Moore when he hit the brakes, followed by the patrol car slamming into the Nissan.

Moore jumped out the car and faced Washington, drawing the officer’s attention. That’s when police say Gallon came from behind and shot the officer while Moore tried to escape.

The officer, never able to fire his weapon, was hit by a single bullet that did not penetrate his skull, police sources said.

Moore was arrested by Washington and other undercover officers, but Gallon got away.

Detectives would later learn that Moore called Gallon around the time he figured out he had a tail to set up the shot officer, the report read.

Moore and Gallon have been friends for several years, police say, and can be seen posing together on social media.

A massive manhunt began to find Gallon as Washington was rushed to the hospital and treated.

Video surveillance revealed that Gallon tried to hide in an alley next to the house Moore was circling in front of, the report read. During their canvassing, officers spoke to three men at that home — Frederick and Kendrick Watkins, and Andre Copeland.

Frederick and Kendrick told police that while they do live at the home and heard the shooting, no one was inside the house other then them.

Police decided to continue to watch the home and hours later saw Gallon walk out. He was immediately arrested.

Four officers shot in the last year
Regarding his officer’s shooting, Ramirez called it a “cowardly” act, saying it was the fourth time in the past seven months he’s had to go to the hospital after an officer of his was shot and promising it “will not be tolerated.”

The shooting of the 18-year police veteran who has spent most of the past decade working in narcotics sparked a massive response from law enforcement from several South Florida agencies. They flooded the neighborhood with uniformed and task force members and lit up the streets with helicopter search lights.

Three other Miami-Dade police officers have been shot since last August. One died and another continues to rehabilitate. Cesar “Echy” Echaverry, a detective in the county’s high-profile robbery unit, was killed after a shootout with a suspected armed robber on a Liberty City street last August. His suspected shooter was also killed during the exchange of gunfire.

Footballer turned alleged attempted murderer
Miami-Dade Public school records show Gallon IV was the starting cornerback at Miami Northwestern, where his dad was once the principal. He also played briefly for a few college teams.

His father, Gallon III, joined the Miami-Dade County School Board in 2016 after defeating incumbent Wilbert Holloway for the District 1 seat in the county’s most northern end. He was reelected in 2020.

He launched his career as an educator as a classroom teacher and rose to become a superintendent of schools. In Miami-Dade schools, he served as assistant principal and principal at Holmes Elementary. He was later named principal at Miami Northwestern High, serving there for seven years. He’s also served as a district department director. On the School Board, he has championed efforts to improve teacher pay, boost business opportunities for minorities, women and Black-owned businesses and to try and reduce the achievement gap for students.

Gallon III had not responded to an interview request by Thursday afternoon. A Miami-Dade Schools spokesperson declined to comment, calling the incident “a private, non-district-related matter.”

Miami Herald Staff Writer Omar Rodriguez Ortiz contributed to this story.

©2023 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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