ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — An armed man was shot and killed by police Sunday, Nov. 27, in the Tyrone Square area of St. Petersburg, authorities said.
St. Petersburg police first responded to a report of a hit-and-run crash around 3:40 a.m. in the area of 13th Avenue North and 50th Street, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said at a news conference. They arrived to find a bumper with a license plate lying in the roadway.
Police ran the tag number and found that the car belonged to Mary Spanoudis, who reportedly lived in a second-story apartment at 1225 58th Street North.
Officers went to the apartment, knocked on the door multiple times and received no answer, Gualtieri said. They noticed a wheelchair, crutches and mail stacked up inside.
Police were able to determine that Mary Spanoudis had moved from the apartment to a nursing home. When officers contacted her, she told them her 63-year-old son Gus Spanoudis lived in the apartment.
Mary said her son was disabled and she was concerned for his safety because of what officers had seen in the apartment. She asked officers to conduct a welfare check, according to Gualtieri.
Officers knocked again and received no answer. After a failed attempt by a maintenance person to unlock the door, police contacted the St. Petersburg Fire Department, who forced entry into the apartment around 6:10 a.m.
Officers walked in and identified themselves as they spotted Gus Spanoudis sitting in a chair in one of the bedrooms.
"He made a comment to officers that he wanted to commit suicide," Gualtieri said.
While Officer Jace Morrow spoke with Spanoudis and a 29-year-old man who was also in the apartment, Officer James DeMaria spoke with a 30-year-old man who was in the next bedroom, according to the sheriff.
Gualtieri said that's when Spanoudis took out a gun and pointed it at Officer Morrow.
Morrow told him to drop the weapon. He refused, so Morrow shot him, the sheriff said.
Spanoudis was taken to a local hospital where he later died.
Authorities are investigating the hit-and-run crash. Gualtieri said both the 29- and 30-year-old men had been staying at the apartment with Spanoudis. Deputies suspect that one of them was driving the car involved in the crash, the sheriff added.
Officer Morrow was placed on no-duty status, per St. Pete police protocol.
In late December, the state's attorney's office determined that the death of Gus Spanoudis was justifiable homicide.
"As a result of this investigation, I have determined that Officer Jace Morrow and Officer James Demaria were in the lawful performance of their legal duties when they entered the residence for a welfare check on Gus Spanoudis," the state's attorney's office wrote in a letter to St. Petersburg Police Department Chief Anthony Holloway, in part.
"Spanoudis refused to comply with Officer Morrow's commands to drop his firearm and Spanoudis ultimately raised the firearm and pointed it in the direction of Officer Morrow and Officer Demaria, committing the felony crime of Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer. Officer Morrow was justified in his belief that he and Officer Demaria were in danger of death or great bodily harm as a result of the actions of Spanoudis."
You can watch the full news conference below.