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Couple with Maryland ties connected to Fla. officer shooting

A couple with ties to Maryland is believed to be responsible for the shooting death of a Florida police officer.

Benjamin Holtermann, wanted in connection with crimes in Maryland, shot and killed Deputy Jonathan Scott Pine, 34, after a brief foot chase into the backyard of a home in Westminster Landing late Monday, according to the Orange County (Fla.) Sherrif's Office. Soon after, the 28-year-old ended his own life in the neighborhood north of Windermere, authorities said.

Deputies swarmed the community and detained Erica Pugh, later identified as Holtermann's girlfriend. Emergency responders, meanwhile, rushed Pine to the hospital.

He was pronounced dead at Orlando Regional Medical Center on Tuesday, becoming the first officer killed in the line of duty in Florida this year.

Sheriff Jerry Demings called Pine a "true hero."

Holtermann did not act alone in his suspected criminal exploits in the Orlando-area, detectives said.

Sheriff's Sgt. Parks Duncan said Pugh confessed to a Friday armed robbery with Holtermann not far from the subdivision where Pine was shot.

According to the affidavit, she also admitted to driving the Honda and acting as a lookout for Holtermann, before Butler saw him lurking. The affidavit indicates the car had been reported stolen days earlier.

Pugh and Holterman are originally from Maryland's Eastern Shore near Delaware, where Pugh had been a high school cheerleader. State authorities there knew her as the felon's girlfriend.

Records show a warrant was issued for Pugh's arrest in May on charges of theft, obstruction and giving a false statement to a peace officer.

Pugh's step-father, Alexander Moses, hadn't seen her since last year and never met Holtermann, he told the Sentinel in a telephone interview from his home in Delmar, Md. The family learned of her arrest Monday.

Holtermann has faced charges of robbery, theft, assault and forgery there in recent years.

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said Holtermann was convicted of robbing the same teller at the same Provident Bank twice in less than four months. He was convicted in Nov. 2009.

He was sentenced to seven years for the first bank robbery and a suspended 10-year sentence for the second followed by three years of probation, he said.

Holtermann was released in November 2012, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services.

Police in Fruitland, Md., also put out a bulletin in August, indicating that Holtermann was wanted for questioning in connection with a burglary at a residence on Aug. 11.

According to police Chief Mike Phillips, Holtermann was a "person of interest" in that case.

"They brought him in and interviewed him," Phillips said. "It was nothing that we were able to substantiate."

But in September, police in nearby Salisbury issued a warrant for Holtermann's arrest on theft and forgery charges, according to The Daily Times of Salisbury.

The newspaper reported that police suspected Holtermann stole three checks from his employer, cashing two for a total of $1,760. A third, for $3,200, was stopped by the bank.

For unknown reasons, the couple came to Florida and are suspected of breaking into cars. Pugh is being charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle and burglary of conveyance.

There is no information about what charges, if any, she is going to face in connection to the fatal shooting of the deputy sheriff.

For more, read coverage in The Orlando Sentinel.

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