ST. PETERSBURG — The six men were huddled around a game of cards at 3:45 a.m. Wednesday outside the Kenwood Village Inn when two armed, masked men showed up.
The intruders apparently wanted money. But they wouldn't get it without a fight.
Gunfire rang out. Residents at the motel, 701 34th St. N, called 911. By the time police arrived, three people — two of the players and one of the would-be robbers — had been shot.
Police are investigating the apparent botched robbery, which happened as the group was playing tonk, a game involving low-stakes gambling, authorities said.
No arrests had been made late Wednesday, but one of those who was shot, Garrick C. Lucas, 25, died at the scene with a mask still covering his face, police said. A handgun lay next to his body. Another man, Eric T. Carter, 41, was later pronounced dead after being taken to Bayfront Medical Center.
Carter, who lived at the Kenwood Village Inn and worked as the motel's maintenance man, appeared to have exchanged gunfire with Lucas, said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz.
A 17-year-old, Micah Cave, who lives at the nearby Mosley Motel, remains in stable condition.
The second gunman remains at large.
Detectives questioned the other four card players. Police said they believe friends of Lucas know who the second suspect is, but so far have not cooperated with authorities.
Lucas has an arrest history that includes charges of battery, carrying a concealed weapon, burglary and leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, according to state records.
Carter also had a history of brushes with the law, including a stint in prison after a 2005 conviction for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
His grandmother, Carrie Carter of St. Petersburg, said her family was in a state of confusion following word of the shooting.
"I'm a little prejudiced because he was my grandson, but I thought he was a very nice person," Carter said. "It's very difficult."
Carter spent time in the Army in the late 1980s and early 1990s, his grandmother said. Afterward, he kept getting in trouble, which, in turn, made it difficult to find work.
"I don't know what happened," she said. "I'm just so confused right now."
Anyone with information about the shooting can call Detective Kenny Miller at (727) 892-5916.
Times staff writer Laura C. Morel contributed to this report.