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Burglary suspect fires at Hillsborough deputy but misses

TAMPA — A routine car burglary call turned into a deadly situation Friday when a gunman fired a bullet through the windshield of a deputy's cruiser.

The bullet missed the deputy but flying glass from the windshield sprayed him, causing minor injuries, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

Deputy Paulo Santos-Rizzo did not return fire at the running gunman, authorities said.

The shooting touched off a massive early-morning search that led to one arrest. Another suspect was still at large late Friday.

Jeffrey Lee Ervin was later arrested on a charge of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. Ervin has been arrested multiple times, jail records say.

"It just goes to show you how dangerous it is out here on the streets for our deputies," said sheriff's Maj. J.R. Burton.

Dozens of deputies descended on the area around Florida and Fletcher avenues in a massive search for the second suspect, described as a black male in his late teens or early 20s, about 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, wearing a black shirt and blue jeans.

Sheriff's helicopters circled the area and deputies on foot peered into storm drains and other potential hiding spots.

Traffic was directed away from the scene, and a perimeter stretched for blocks around Florida and Fletcher, with dozens of sheriff's cruisers parked or patrolling the area.

"He's probably eluded us," Burton said.

Here's what the Sheriff's Office said happened:

At 3:49 a.m., deputies were called to the Shadow Oaks Apartments near Lake Magdalene in response to a 911 call about a car burglary in progress.

Burton said the burglars broke into at least two vehicles.

When deputies arrived, two people took off running. Deputies chased them on foot.

Santos-Rizzo, who joined the Sheriff's Office in 2006, was driving to the scene on Florida Avenue when a men ran in front of his car, shooting as he passed.

Authorities later identified the gunman as Ervin, 21.

A bullet that pierced the top of the windshield hit the rear-view mirror.

Santos-Rizzo did not give chase but guarded the scene as other deputies arrived.

Santos-Rizzo appeared calm and composed after the shooting, Burton said. "He's tough," he added.

Ervin was armed when a canine patrol found him, authorities said.

A deputy's dog bit Ervin when he resisted arrest, authorities said, and he was treated at the scene.

Deputies recovered a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, and Ervin was arrested.

Ervin has been arrested multiple times on charges of robbery and carjacking.

His most recent arrest was Sept. 13 in Hillsborough County on charges of carjacking with a deadly weapon, robbery, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, grand theft third- degree, giving a false name to a law enforcement officer and petit theft.

He was placed on felony probation in August 2008 after convictions of carjacking, armed robbery, burglary and grand theft in 2007 and 2008, according to the Department of Corrections.

His probation was scheduled to end in January 2010.

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Burglary suspect fires at Hillsborough deputy but misses 11/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 13, 2009 11:08pm]

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