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Man accused of shooting at park rangers dies in fed custody

June 22, 2021 GMT

MIAMI (AP) — The death of a man in federal custody who was accused of shooting at Everglades National Park rangers and police officers is the focus of an investigation.

Drew C. Sikes, 37, was arrested in March on charges of assaulting federal officers with a deadly weapon. The Bureau of Prisons website said he died June 16 but does not list a cause of death, the Miami Herald reported.

The U.S. attorney’s office, which was prosecuting Sikes, declined to comment on the case, the newspaper reported. Skye’s public defender did not respond to a request for comment.

The Herald reported that Sikes’ death is considered suspicious and is being investigated by the Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General and other authorities.

Eric Speirs, the union representative for the facility’s guards, said it appears the correctional officer was not at fault and the inmate’s injury was self-inflicted. He said a video surveillance camera captured the incident. Speirs added that drugs smuggled into the facility were a problem and may have contributed to the situation.

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Inmates detained at the Federal Detention Center near downtown Miami are typically awaiting trials or, after their convictions, are being transferred to a federal prison facility.

Sikes was taken into custody March 28 after surrendering to authorities. A federal complaint said he urged park rangers and police officers to kill him during tense negotiations.

“I want you guys to kill me,” Sikes, who was carrying an AK-47, shouted at officers before he was arrested.

A judge found him to be a danger to the community and ordered him detained until his trial.

He faced a minimum prison sentence of 10 years and possibly up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The incident began earlier in March when Sikes was arrested on a felony domestic violence charge of aggravated assault with a firearm on his wife, according to court records. A Miami-Dade judge released him but ordered him to stay away from his wife.

But Sikes held her hostage for four days. She was finally able to get away March 28. She called park rangers for help, and they, along with Miami-Dade police officers, began searching for Sikes, They used a loudspeaker to communicate with him in a wooded area where he was hiding.

At one point they heard gunfire and felt rounds traveling over their heads, the complaint said. Finally, after an hour of negotiations, Sikes came out of the woods and was arrested.