Melbourne officer injured after responding to report of shoplifter

Suspect faces battery on a law enforcement charge

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Several hours after a suspect shoplifted from a retail store and attacked a police officer, he was taken into custody by Melbourne police Monday afternoon, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

Officer began searching for Justin Gentgen, 33, after he struck and injured a Melbourne officer around 10:30 a.m. before fleeing in the area near the Bealls Outlet at 287 E. Eau Gallie Boulevard. 

According to police reports, Gentgen was able to attack the officer while being arrested and escaped. K-9 units and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office helicopter were deployed in the search for Gentgen until he was eventually able to flee the area on foot. 

He was seen later in the afternoon near his Indian Harbour Beach residence before escaping again, police said. He was then seen on Cinnamon Drive in Satellite Beach where he was arrested.

Gentgen has been arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement and retail theft with violence.

On Tuesday, the Indian Harbour Beach resident was still at the Brevard County Jail on a $36,000 bond. 

Melbourne Police released the 911 call from the loss prevention officer at Bealls.

"I had a shoplifter. He stole in the fitting room, but he had a knife on him so I didn't want to approach him," the employee said.

Police said Gentgen was carrying a pocket knife.

Gentgen has been arrested before for battery and also has multiple shoplifting convictions.

Police said he hit the officer so hard that she fell down in the parking lot injuring her knee, although she's doing OK.