• Melbourne officer who confronted knife-wielding suspected shoplifter released from hospital

    By: Melonie Holt


    MELBOURNE, Fla. - A Melbourne police officer is out of the hospital after she was seriously injured while trying to take a suspected shoplifter into custody.

    The officer initially responded to the Bealls Outlet on Eau Gallie Boulevard on Monday after someone called 911 and reported that a shoplifter with a knife on his person was on a bicycle in the parking lot.

    When Officer Harrison arrived on scene, she said she located Justin Gentgen and says he struck her in the shoulder after he ignored her verbal commands.

    Harrison said she was struck with such force that she twisted to the right and fell backwards, severely injuring her knee.

    Police said Gentgen fled the scene, but was tracked down several hours later near his Indian Harbour Beach residence, where investigators said he tried to avoid arrest.

    Gentgen is being held on a $36,000 bond and was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician. 

    Harrison was released from the hospital, but remains off-duty.

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