One dead, three in custody

September 25th, 2009 by

TAMPA – A police standoff rocked a Tampa neighborhood Thursday afternoon. Tampa Police SWAT team members surrounded a home on East Paris Street in search of a robbery suspect, who police say fired at them first.

“The suspect opened fire on our SWAT Team, so it could’ve been a very deadly situation for our officers,” said Assistant Chief Jane Castor.

Police say two thieves held up Grow Financial Bank on S. Boulevard at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Two hours later, investigators got a tip one of the suspects was hiding out in a home on Chestnut Street. SWAT members searched the house, but found no one. Nearby schools on lockdown allowed students to go home.

“We got further information that identified a vehicle. Officers have been following that vehicle around,” Castor said.

Police followed the vehicle to East Paris Street. Two suspects surrendered. Police caught a third, who tried to get away. The fourth suspect holed himself up inside the house.

Neighbors watched it all unfold.

“When I came here, I heard there was a shooting. I said ‘I hope all the shooting is over with because I don’t want to be ducking and dodging,” Anthony Sneed told FOX 13.

He says it’s usually a quiet neighborhood.

“Crazy… We saw the SWAT truck coming by, tank and all,” Jeff Argo said to FOX 13.

Castor says the situation could’ve been tragic for police.

“It was a very dangerous situation. We had a commander on scene that fortunately called the street officers off,” she said.

Next, the suspect fired at SWAT members, according to police.

“Officers approached the door to the house… the remaining suspect inside opened fire on those officers,” Castor said.

Police say they fired back. They eventually used tear gas to get inside the house. That’s when the found their suspect dead.

“We are investigating now to determine if that was suicide or if it came from our police officers,” said Castor.

The standoff ended just before 6:30 p.m. Police have three people in custody. They are still looking for one more who they say was at one point in the vehicle they followed to East Paris Street.

Police believe the suspects were involved in two bank robberies and several pawn shop robberies over the past few weeks.

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