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Sheriff: 17-year-old shot by police after pointing gun at officer

The teen was taken to Bayfront Hospital for surgery. Sheriff Gualtieri put his chance of survival at “50-50.”

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A St. Petersburg police officer shot a 17-year-old who investigators say pointed a gun at him Wednesday afternoon in the area of 13th Avenue South, just west of 25th Street.

Friday, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office announced charges against the 17-year-old in this investigation.

The teen is charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, carrying a concealed firearm, possession of a firearm by a person under 18 years of age, and battery (dating violence).

The situation began with an argument between the teen and a 16-year-old girl at Wildwood Park on 28th Street South. A witness who called 911 said the 17-year-old had a handgun and was trying to take the girl’s phone, according to law enforcement.

As the officers arrived on the scene, they conducted interviews with the girl and the witness, Gualtieri said. The officers established probable cause to arrest the 17-year-old on a domestic battery charge.

But, before police could arrest him, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the teen ran away from the park and down 13th Avenue South. That’s where authorities say he was spotted by St. Pete K-9 Officer Leighton Williams, who’d heard the radio dispatch about a person with a gun.

According to Gualtieri, the 17-year-old took up a position by a garage. When Williams rounded an alleyway, the sheriff said the teen pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the officer.

Officer Williams fired once, authorities said, striking the teen in the abdomen.

The 17-year-old was taken to Bayfront Hospital for surgery. Gualtieri put his chance of survival at “50-50.”

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office showed a photo of the gun investigators say the 17-year-old pointed at a St. Pete police officer.

St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway confirmed the teen had been linked to a robbery that happened this past Sunday when a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old were robbed at gunpoint. Detectives say they’d developed enough probable cause by Wednesday to take the 17-year-old into custody on an armed robbery charge for that unrelated situation.

The Pinellas County Use of Deadly Force Investigative Taskforce is investigating the shooting, as is standard policy to promote more objectivity in situations like this.

"The purpose of this task force is to make sure that officer-involved shootings in Pinellas County are investigated by an independent agency and not by the agency involved in the use of deadly force," the St. Pete Police Department said.

Community activists are concerned gun violence in the city is slowly becoming an epidemic that's getting out of control.

"It's time for us to take some ownership of what's happening in our city. No longer can we say out of sight out of mind it's not happening in my city or my community so why should I be concerned. Death is slowly creeping up on our back yard," Corey Givens, a local activist, said a few hours after the shooting.

The city is seeing its deadliest year with 28 people killed by guns so far - many of the shootings involving young people between 15 to 25-years-old.

"We have to take the onus and decide that I'm not going to let my child be another statistic. Enough is enough and we have to do something about it," Givens said.