Saturday, December 16, 2017
Public safety

Clearwater officer shoots, kills armed 69-year-old man

CLEARWATER — Police shot and killed a 69-year-old man Saturday in a bizarre standoff at the man's home after he expressed suicidal thoughts to a friend, authorities said.

David DiRoma, who had worked as a handyman and general contractor, was killed by a single gunshot at his house at 3018 Merrill Ave., located off McMullen-Booth Road just north of the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex.

Police were called there shortly before 4:30 p.m. Saturday after a friend grew concerned about some comments he had heard from DiRoma. The friend had been visiting with DiRoma, who said he had no reason to live because of various problems he was having.

The friend called police an hour after leaving DiRoma's residence, authorities said.

When officers arrived, they tried to establish communication with DiRoma through a cellphone and his house phone, police said. They also used the loudspeaker on a police cruiser outside the residence. They said all of those efforts were ignored by DiRoma, whom officers saw walking around inside the house.

DiRoma then came out of the house armed with a handgun, and pointed it officers, a police spokesman said.

He refused officers' commands to drop the weapon, police said. Fearing for their safety, one of the officers fired a single shot.

DiRoma was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:30 p.m.

Officer Brian Rogers, who fired the shot, was placed on paid administrative leave, which is routine in police-involved shootings. Rogers has been with the Clearwater Police Department for more than 12 years.

The Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney's Office is investigating the shooting.

Records show that DiRoma had operated businesses under the names David DiRoma Construction and DiRoma Handy Man Home Repair Services.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, he had been convicted three times of drunken driving charges. A fourth was reduced to a lesser charge of reckless driving causing injury or property damage, of which he was convicted. The state records show he also had been convicted of carrying a concealed weapon, battery and refusal to submit to DUI testing after his license was suspended.

Saturday's shooting was the second recent gunfire incident involving Clearwater officers.

Last month, internal affairs investigators justified the actions of two Clearwater police officers who fired at a car during a chase.

On Aug. 16, a witness called 911 to report that a sport utility vehicle was driving erratically. Three officers stopped the SUV on Court Street but the driver accelerated, striking Officer Darcy Hunt in the leg, police said.

Hunt and Cpl. Steven Squillante fired at the SUV, police said. The driver, identified as Nicole Syphers of Clearwater, fled but was later caught.

News researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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