Dangerous Traffic Stop leads to Manhunt on Narcoosee Road

Orlando Tribune Osceola Manhunt 2007 Gavin P Smith

OSCEOLA COUNTY – On May 19th, around 7pm, residents in the East Lake Reserve area of Narcoosee Road got a firsthand look at an army of police officers in action.  Osceola County and Orange County officers arrived with some twenty-five or more units in total.  Every side road for two miles was blocked off by a patrol car.  Police search boats were on the scene.  Police officers in body armor jackets with rifles were present.  Aviation units from Orange County were in the air.  Even K-9 units from both counties were on the scene. 

What happened that brought so much firepower and manpower to bear on that small area of East Lake Reserve?  According to officials, a routine traffic stop went bad, involving 35-year-old Michael D. Zarajczyk.  Zarajczyk was pulled over in a traffic stop by an Osceola County Sheriff’s deputy around 6pm that evening. 

According to officials, Zarajczyk was pulled over after reports came in of reckless driving by a driver of a Black Saturn.  Deputy Zenaida Hernandez pulled Zarajczyk over, noticed an odor that led her to believe the subject was intoxicated, and proceeded to attempt to get him out of the car.  He was uncooperative and engaged in a physical confrontation with the deputy.  He then tried to run the deputy over with his vehicle. 

“The driver of the vehicle was uncooperative and became aggressive with the deputy which led to a physical altercation, said Twis Lizasuain of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.  “The deputy was knocked to the ground.”

Zarajczyk then attempted to flee the scene on foot.  The deputy fired on Zarajczyk but he managed to get away on foot, hopping a wall at a nearby gated community.

What followed was a massive manhunt involving officers from both Osceola and Orange counties.  Residents were encouraged to stay in their homes while the search took place.  One, who happened to be driving through the area at the time, was amazed at the response.

“It was unbelievable,” said Rebecca Barrett of St. Cloud.  “We were driving back from the beach heading home when we came upon what seemed an endless amount of police cars and armed police everywhere.  We didn’t know what happened, but we knew it was something big.”

Almost six hours later after the stop, officers had their man.  Zarajczyk was caught just south of Old Oak Trail in St. Cloud.  According to police, one of the deputy’s bullets had grazed his elbow, causing minor injury.  He was treated, and then incarcerated.  Zarajczyk remains in custody without bond while investigations continue.

“Currently, the suspect is in jail on attempted murder and battery charges,” said Lizasuain. “Deputy Hernandez has recovered from the minor injuries she received during the incident.”

Deputy Hernandez  is on standard administrative leave while internal investigations continue.  She  is a 10-year veteran of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department.