Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg Little Caesars shooter gets three years in prison for shooting patron

LARGO — What led to Randy White's bullet wounds and Michael Jock's prison sentence began with an ordered, but uncooked, thin-crust vegetable pizza.

For 20 minutes on a Sunday in December, White and a friend had been waiting for their order in the Little Caesars parking lot at 3463 Fourth St. N. Impatient, he went in and asked about the delay. A cook, he said later, smarted off to him. White didn't like that. He began to yell and shouted an expletive at the employee.

Jock, standing behind White, objected.

Jock told him he had a foul mouth. He said there were women present and asked him to shut up. White declined to shut up, loudly, and shoved his fellow pizza patron.

But Jock, a concealed-weapons permit holder, brought more to the argument than two fists and a sense of propriety. He pulled out a .38 Taurus Ultralight Special Revolver and shot White twice in the side.

Jock later told police he had fired the gun out of fear for his life. He was standing his ground.

Investigators didn't agree. At his sentencing hearing Tuesday morning, no one mentioned the controversial law to Judge Michael Andrews.

Jock's attorney, Nicholas Dorsten, had already made a deal with prosecutors: three years in prison, two years of probation.

But the arrangement didn't stop about a dozen of Jock's friends and family members from pleading for leniency. They described him as this: a devoted step-father and caring husband of 26 years; a hard-working employee at a local veterinary clinic; a two-decade recovering alcoholic; a patient listener; a "kind, gentle soul"; a "good dude"; and someone who would learn from the mistake of shooting another person.

Jock, 53, told the court he couldn't believe that, after doing the right thing all his life, he was now faced with incarceration. He's kept his troubles secret from his aging mother. Lying to her, he said, has been "the hardest thing."

"I find myself," he told the judge, "in a very unforeseen predicament."

The judge was unmoved.

Andrews told Jock he would have given him 10 years if not for the deal.

White, who didn't attend Tuesday's hearing, believes his attacker deserved about half that.

The events of that afternoon remain fresh in his mind. He remembers exactly what he thought when the first bullet hit him.

"I'm going to die," he recalled, "in this freaking pizza place."

One stray round narrowly missed the head of a woman on the other side of the room, he said. It pierced a picture of a pie on the wall.

White, now 50, choked Jock until he could break free. He ran for the door, expecting to get shot in the back. He had just reached his pickup on the far side of the parking lot when he looked down at the two holes in his side. One round remained in his flesh.

"This guy just really shot me, man," he told his friend.

Jock, he said, walked out and sat at a table, the gun still in his hand. White, who admits he has a bad temper, had a few things left to say. Bleeding, he walked back over.

"I was pissed," he said. "Wouldn't you be pissed?"

The two men kept shouting at each other. He said Jock's wife, Denise, told him he deserved it.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "His wife was co-signing on it."

She refused to speak with a reporter at Tuesday's hearing.

Neither of White's wounds were serious, but he said his hospital bills exceeded $17,000. The judge ordered Jock to pay that back in restitution.

"I got lucky. I got really lucky," White said. "I could be laying in a pine box right now."

Still, White's luck, he noted, has a downside.

He couldn't persuade a lawyer to sue Jock. White, a mechanic, figures his chances would have been better had he come closer to death.

"I'm going to definitely try to sue Little Caesars, you know."

He said Morgan & Morgan are working on it.

But why would he sue the pizza parlor?

"They're responsible," he said. "Their employee incited the whole thing."

White insists that if the cook had just made his thin-crust vegetable pizza, or not been rude about it, none of this would have ever happened.

 
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