Monday, November 20, 2017

Clearwater man was carrying 3 guns, 3 knives when police shot him

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CLEARWATER — Mark Wayne Bill, who was shot by two Clearwater police officers Sunday evening, was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, shotgun, pistol and three knives, authorities said Monday.

Bill, 56, remained in critical condition at Bayfront Medical Center Monday.

Clearwater public safety spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts released more information Monday about Bill and his weaponry. She said he had a .223-caliber AR-15 rifle, a Mossberg 500 shotgun, and a Colt .45 pistol on him when he was shot, as well as three knives. More guns and ammunition were found inside the home.

A grenade also was found inside the home, according to Watts. The Tampa Bay Bomb Squad responded early Monday and determined it was inert.

Police initially reported Bill fired at them before they shot him, but Monday Watts said police are working to confirm a shot was fired.

"According to the preliminary investigation, officers believed he (Bill) fired a shot, however, we are conducting forensic testing to confirm he fired the weapon," Watts wrote in an email. "Bill did point the AR-15 in a threatening manner multiple times at officers and disregarded lawful orders to drop his weapon. Two Clearwater officers fired at Bill because they were in fear for their safety and the safety of their fellow officers."

The officers involved in the shooting — Kris Wise and Michael Beaver — have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard policy in officer-involved shootings. Neither officer has been involved in a shooting before, Watts said.

The officers visited Bill's home in the Meadows subdivision off Belcher Road because a relative had called police and expressed concern about a conversation he had with Bill, police said Sunday.

Bill's 15-year-old son was in the home during the shooting and was not harmed. He was released to his mother, Deborah Bill, who divorced Mark Bill in 2005, according to Pinellas County records.

Police also released more information about Bill's background Monday. He had been living at 2224 Glenmoor Road S for a year and a half. Police had only been called to the house once, after Bill said a bicycle was stolen from his garage in February. Bill is a U.S. Army veteran, according to Watts, and is experienced with weapons.

"He has a criminal history with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and the Pennsylvania State Police, where he was charged with misdemeanor voluntary manslaughter in 1983," Watts wrote.

The Hillsborough incident was a 1983 escape charge, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, and the final adjudication is unknown. Watts did not clarify if Bill was convicted in the Pennsylvania incident. The Pinellas incident was a 2001 misdemeanor battery charge, which was dropped after Bill and his wife went to mediation, according to county records.

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or whobson@tampabay.com.

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