PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is in the hospital after a shooting occurred Sunday evening in St. Petersburg, authorities say.
A sergeant and the deputy, who is also a corporal K-9 handler, chased a man who was accused by a witness of trying to break into several cars, and when authorities caught up to him, the man shot at them with a gun and struck the deputy, law enforcement says.
At around 6:52 p.m., deputies say they arrived in the area of 60th Avenue North after a witness said he saw a man wearing gloves, trying to get into several cars. The witness then reportedly confronted the man and started videotaping him.
Speaking during a news conference at around 9:50 p.m. Sunday, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway said the man then ran northbound from the location where he was spotted by the witness. Deputies then found him near 62nd Avenue and 64th Street.
"When deputies made contact with the suspect, he then took off running southbound from that area," Holloway said. "The K-9 handler along with the sergeant on the scene followed the suspect."
That's when law enforcement chased the man until they reached the area of 60th Avenue North at a church. The man opened then opened fire after he was tracked into a fenced backyard, Holloway said.
"As they [authorities] go past a building, the suspect comes out and shoots at the K-9 handler, striking him several times," the police chief said. "Then, he turns the gun towards the sergeant, shoots several times at the sergeant and the sergeant returned fire."
Holloway said the man who was trying to run away from law enforcement was killed during the shooting, while the K-9 handler hurt in the incident is stable. Although he was fired at, the sergeant did not suffer any gunshot wounds. The K-9 is also OK.
Authorities have not yet released the name of the K-9 handler injured in the shooting or the man that was killed, but say they will do so Monday morning.
The St. Pete Police Department will investigate the shooting, Holloway said. After their investigation concludes, the Florida State Attorney's Office will look at the investigation and then the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office will determine if any policies or procedures were violated by the sergeant or deputy. Police say the sergeant will be placed on administrative leave.
Law enforcement said they are still in the preliminary investigation of the incident.