School Bus Driver Arrested in Fatal Valrico Shooting

September 29th, 2010 by Staff

TAMPA | After two days of public outcry, Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies arrested a 69-year-old man Tuesday on manslaughter charges in the fatal shooting of an Air Force veteran on a Valrico basketball court.

School bus driver Trevor Dooley was led in handcuffs from his home and was booked into the Hillsborough County jail.

David James, 41, was killed Sunday in front of his 8-year-old daughter. The shooting stemmed from a dispute over skateboarders.

“The suspect fired the gun. There’s no indication the victim pulled the trigger,” sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jose Docobo said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Dooley, who is not cooperating with authorities and has made no statement about the incident, also faces charges of improper exhibition of a firearm and openly carrying a firearm, Docobo said.

Dooley and James started arguing after Dooley confronted a boy riding a skateboard across a basketball court and James defended him, neighbors and authorities have said.

Investigators think Dooley pulled a gun out of his waist band and then he and James struggled over it, sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. The two men wound up on the ground.

Before the struggle for the weapon, there was no physical confrontation, Docobo said, clarifying the agency’s position that the shooting would not be defensible under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law.

The victim was unarmed, Docobo said. Investigators found a pocket knife at the scene, but there’s no indication it was ever in the victim’s possession, he said.

Tuesday’s news conference marked the first time the Sheriff’s Office publicly named Dooley as the suspect.

Docobo said initial accounts of the shooting had varied.

Authorities said they were investigating who pulled the trigger or whether the shooting was justified.

“From an emotional standpoint, it’s difficult to understand why someone would bring a gun to a park,” Docobo said.

The morning after the shooting, Dooley returned to his job as a Hillsborough County school bus driver.

District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said Monday the Sheriff’s Office did not notify the school district of Dooley’s connection to the shooting.

“We screwed up. It’s just that simple,” Docobo said, when asked about that decision.

He said there was no legal reason to tell the school, but he noted that it should have happened.

“I think common sense should have prevailed here,” he said.

Dooley did not drive his bus route Tuesday morning, Cobbe said. He and his wife, Patricia, who also drives a bus for the school district, called in sick.

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