The Tampa Bay Lightning recognized St. Petersburg police officer Doug Weaver as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight's game against the Florida Panthers. Weaver, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will contribute the money to his charity of choice, Helping Hands 4 St. Pete's Finest.
On Monday, January 24, 2011, the St. Petersburg Police Department received heartbreaking news that Sergeant Thomas Baitinger and K-9 Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz were killed in the line of duty, and a Deputy U.S. Marshal was seriously wounded during a gun battle with an armed fugitive who barricaded himself inside an attic of a city residence. Without a doubt, many individuals distinguished themselves by their bravery that day, including Weaver, a 22-year veteran police officer who voluntarily entered the house of the armed gunman four different times in an attempt to rescue his fellow fallen law enforcement officers.
Amidst the confusion of the chaotic situation, Weaver smashed out a bathroom window of the house and helped two officers outside before going around to a bedroom where a police sergeant lay mortally wounded. He broke out the window and climbed in, picked up the sergeant and passed him outside to other officers. He then led the SWAT team through a violent exchange of gunfire before they rescued the final officer inside the residence. By day's end, in spite of several lacerations on his hand and other minor injuries, Weaver willingly braved the gravest perils of his job, as well as sacrificed his own life on numerous occasions for the sake of others' right to live.
In more than two decades of service, Weaver has earned many accolades from St. Petersburg citizens and fellow officers for actions above and beyond the call of duty. While working for several years as a community police officer, Weaver has made various presentations to middle school-aged children to help them develop a positive image of police officers and also serves as an instructor for the SWAT team.
Outside of the law enforcement community, Weaver has actively volunteered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation among other local charities.