Saturday, December 16, 2017
Public safety

Pursuit by St. Petersburg police ends in fatal crash on 49th Street N

ST. PETERSBURG — An armed robbery suspect was killed and several other people were injured Monday evening in a crash that occurred after a pursuit by St. Petersburg police.

The man killed was a passenger in a car police were pursuing, officials said. The driver of that vehicle also was seriously injured.

The chase began about 5:22 p.m. when officers began an "authorized pursuit" of the vehicle, which traveled north on 49th Street, police said. Moments later, that car crashed into three other vehicles near the intersection of Fifth Avenue N.

Officials had not released the suspect's name late Tuesday, nor did they provide details about the armed robbery.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. The driver was taken to a local hospital.

All the people in the three vehicles that were hit suffered injuries that police said were not life-threatening.

No police vehicles were involved in the crash.

The crash comes two years after the St. Petersburg Police Department loosened its pursuit policies, which previously had allowed officers to only pursue suspects in violent felonies. Now, officers are allowed to pursue suspects in more situations.

The pursuit that occurred Tuesday night would have occurred under the old policy because an armed robbery is a violent felony, said police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

After the crash, authorities closed 49th Street for several blocks north of Fifth Avenue N for several hours as they investigated. Crowds of nearby residents and spectators gathered.

Clinton Whaley, 32, was watching his daughter ride a scooter along the sidewalk near their home on Sixth Avenue N when he heard the crash.

"It sounded like a damn bomb going off," Whaley said. "The cops had actually passed the wreck. That's how fast they were going."

Whaley ran to the intersection of 49th Street, where he saw a man covered in blood lying motionless on the yellow lines in the middle of the road.

"I didn't see him moving at all," Whaley said. "They put him on one of those flat boards and put him in the back of an ambulance."

From the west side of 49th Street, a dark-colored Mercedes could be seen smashed into the right rear end of a red car. Between them, a yellow tarp concealed what appeared to be a body.

Car parts were scattered across the asphalt and on the lawn of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church and in other nearby yards.

A large piece of what appeared to be an engine block from one the cars lay on a sidewalk on the east side of 49th Street.

Officers gathered near the corner of Sixth Avenue N, close to a cross marking the spot where another fatal accident took place years before.

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