Friday, February 23, 2018
Public safety

Clearwater nurse shot to death; boyfriend is charged

CLEARWATER — A Clearwater woman was shot and killed by her boyfriend early Sunday morning during a birthday party at her home in the Countrypark subdivision, police said.

Josephine Austria's boyfriend, Alexander Richardson of Clearwater, has been arrested in her death and charged with second-degree murder. Richardson, 24, was also charged with using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, according to the Clearwater Police Department.

Austria, a 51-year-old nurse, was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, Clearwater Police spokesman Rob Shaw said. Richardson, who lived with Austria at 2368 Hillcreek Circle East, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail later Sunday afternoon.

Police learned of the incident after Richardson went to a gas station near the house shortly after 1 a.m. to report the shooting, Shaw said. A guest at the party also dialed 911 after finding Austria unresponsive and bleeding from the head, he added.

After returning to the house, Richardson told initial responders that he had shot his girlfriend, Shaw said.

Crime scene tape still blocked Hillcreek Circle at 10 a.m. Sunday, shortly after police obtained a warrant to search the house. Neighbors walking their dogs and riding bicycles in the quiet community approached the area, stopping to ask questions about what had happened, and then continued on their way.

Those who live closest said there had been a party at the house late Saturday night, with about a dozen cars parked outside. A single helium balloon reading "Birthday Wishes" floated over the mailbox, though it was not Austria's birthday.

Onlookers said they did not know Austria well. But they had seen police go to her house in the past and had concerns that something bad might happen.

"I was worried for her safety because of what I saw," said Cathy Rice, who lives two doors down.

Rice has been in the neighborhood for 23 years, and said this was the first time she had ever seen such a violent incident take place. The biggest problem requiring police, she said, has been speeding.

"This has been a very calm, nice neighborhood," Rice said. "This is so sad."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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