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Four dead, including mother and baby, in Florida ‘gunfight’

Polk County sheriff Grady Judd said the gunman was dressed in full body armour.

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Officials at the scene of the shooting (Michael Wilson/The Ledger/AP)

Officials at the scene of the shooting (Michael Wilson/The Ledger/AP)

Officials at the scene of the shooting (Michael Wilson/The Ledger/AP)

Four people are dead, including a mother and the baby she was cradling, in what authorities in Florida called a massive gunfight early Sunday with a man “ready for battle”.

The man was so aggressive he tried to wrestle a gun from police from his hospital trolley after being captured, officers said.

Polk County sheriff Grady Judd said the man was dressed in full body armour, including a bulletproof vest, when he was found outside a property that had been “booby-trapped”.

After a gunfight with police and sheriff’s deputies, in which dozens “if not hundreds of rounds” were exchanged, Mr Judd said, authorities entered the home and found an 11-year-old girl who had been shot several times.

There were three bodies, including a mother still holding her baby. A woman at a neighbouring property was also killed.

A woman encountered “a strange person” about nine hours before the shooting who told her, “God sent me here to speak with one of your daughters”, Judd said during a news conference Sunday.

Later, an officer heard popping noises and all law enforcement in the area was sent to the scene.

The suspect was heavily outfitted in body armour “as if he was ready to engage us all in an active shooter situation”, Mr Judd said

Officers tried to enter the front of the house, but it was barricaded. When they circled to the back, they encountered the gunman and exchanged heavy gunfire.

The gunman later surrendered. He had been shot once.

“He was a coward,” Mr Grady said. “It’s easy to shoot innocent children and babies and people in the middle of the night when you’ve got the gun and they don’t.”

While being treated at the hospital, the man jumped up and tried to grab an officer’s gun. “They had to fight with him again in the emergency room,” Mr Grady said.

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