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Pinellas County deputies investigate deputy-involved shooting, crash

Investigators look at evidence in the CVS parking lot in St. Petersburg where deputies shot a man who had been freed earlier from the Pinellas County Jail in a stalking case.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

Investigators look at evidence in the CVS parking lot in St. Petersburg where deputies shot a man who had been freed earlier from the Pinellas County Jail in a stalking case.

ST. PETERSBURG — Their relationship was over, and she had moved out. The woman thought she was done with Richard E. Williams — until police said he jumped into her car with a gun earlier this month.

Williams, 28, threatened to kill her and himself, police said. She escaped harm that day, but the threats didn't stop. He was arrested on an aggravated stalking charge Saturday and ordered to stay away from her. But two days later Williams came looking for her again, police said.

So Pinellas deputies went looking for Williams. When they found him at a CVS at 5345 66th St. N Tuesday morning, deputies shot him several times after he tried to wrest away one of their guns, sheriff's officials said.

"I'm going to kill him," Williams said as he suddenly jumped behind Deputy Perry A. Warner, 52, and tried to pull his weapon from its holster, according to sheriff's officials. Deputy Dimetria Spanolios, 37, fired her Taser at Williams but officials said it had no effect.

Then Spanolios and Deputy William M. Kenna, 41, drew their guns and shot Williams in the upper torso, officials said.

Williams, who is also known as Courtland Ellison, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where he underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries.

He had been freed from the Pinellas County Jail on the stalking case just 13 hours before the shooting.

Sheriff's officials did not identify the woman whom Williams was accused of stalking. But according to St. Petersburg police reports, he surprised her in her car on June 9. Then he continued to text and call her, police said, and threatened to come kill her at work.

St. Petersburg officers questioned Williams on Saturday and he called it a misunderstanding. He denied owning a gun and said the victim was lying. He was arrested by officers as Courtland Ellison.

When he was freed Monday on $100,000 bail, he was ordered not to contact the woman. But by midnight, deputies said, he had been back to her house, so she called the Sheriff's Office.

Deputies had been looking for Williams all morning when Kenna got a tip that he was at the CVS. Four deputies confronted Williams there at about 8:30 a.m. Deputy Steven M. Tacia, 33, did not fire his weapon.

The deputies involved in the shooting are on paid leave, which is routine after a shooting. The shooting will be investigated by the State Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's Office.

Williams' brother, Joshua Morrison, said he was on the phone with his brother not long before the shooting and was supposed to pick him up across the street. He defended his brother, saying he played piano and the drums for a church: "He's a churchgoing guy," Morrison said.

Shortly after the shooting, Deputy Brad Ferguson, 42, was rushing to the scene with his lights and sirens activated when his cruiser was struck at 54th Avenue N and 58th Street N. His cruiser then hit another vehicle. The deputy and another driver were hospitalized with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. Another driver was treated and released at the scene.

Pinellas County deputies investigate deputy-involved shooting, crash 06/21/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 10:53pm]
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