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Family of UT student shot and killed grieving, looking for answers

19-year-old Carson Senfield was shot and killed early Saturday morning. The shooter told police he acted in self-defense.

TAMPA, Fla. — The investigation into the shooting death of 19-year-old Carson Senfield is still underway after he left his ride-share and tried to get into another car, according to police. 

Detectives learned that Carson was hanging out with friends on South Howard Avenue and caught an Uber to his home near West Arch Street, police said in a news release.

“We spoke with him two days before, he was celebrating his birthday with friends on Friday evening,” Carson's father Daren Senfield said.

When he exited the Uber, he reportedly tried to enter the vehicle of another person parked nearby, and that's when the driver shot and killed Carson. The shooter said that they were in fear for their life. 

However, the 19-year-old's family said that doesn't line-up with the young man they knew and loved.

“He's a great kid, man. Everything every parent would want to raise," Carson's cousin Andrew Senfield said. "“I've never even heard him raise his voice unless he was laughing, which was a lot. He was the sweetest kid you'd ever meet.”

According to police, the shooter said he acted in self-defense, but what does the law in Florida say about that? 

Richard Escobar is defense attorney who successfully argued retired police captain Curtis Reeve’s self defense case earlier this year. He said it’s a law that takes many different factors into consideration.

"There's all sorts of factors such as the lighting conditions, the size of the individuals, whether the individual had a weapon, the age of the individuals, any handicaps that anybody may have had in the circumstances, because that's going to bear upon whether someone reasonably believed that they were in that type of danger,” Escobar said. 

Under the law to use deadly force, people have to reasonably believe that either death or great bodily harm is imminent at the hands of the attacker, according to Escobar.

"The word 'reasonably believes' is very, very important in self defense law because most people are always playing that Monday morning quarterback," Escobar said. "The only thing that the law requires is for one to evaluate whether the individual making the decision actually reasonably believed himself that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. 

"A lot of people don't understand that."

Police say any potential charges will be decided by the State Attorney's Office. They will decide whether deadly force was justified.

“If someone is committing a forcible felony against you or about to commit a forcible felony against you, even without any fight, any physical blow, you can use deadly force to prevent that forcible felony from taking place,” Escobar said.

The Senfield family says they continue to grieve and are waiting for answers from authorities.

"He was just a sweet, generous, kind, fun loving guy," Andrew said. "[He] Always cared about other people. He had a really bright future ahead of him, and unfortunately, it was cut short,” Andrew said.  

We reached out to the Tampa Police Department with questions, they declined to comment citing the investigation is ongoing.

Senfield's family started a GoFundMe to help bring his body back to New York.


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