Early-morning shootout, beatings at Clearwater home leave several hurt

CLEARWATER — Jonathan McAllister was in his boxer shorts having one last smoke before bed early Thursday when two armed men jumped out of a sport utility vehicle in front of his house and started shouting.

Moments later, McAllister found himself in the middle of a shootout with the men outside the home while two young children were inside.

"There wasn't really much going through my head," McAllister said. "Just survive, you know, and look out for the safety of my family."

Clearwater police described the early-morning incident as a drug-related robbery attempt.

McAllister was shot in the hip, but returned fire, hitting one of the intruders, he said. Two other residents of the home at 1529 Evergreen Ave. were pistol whipped, Clearwater police said.

McAllister was treated at a hospital and released later Thursday morning.

The two men who, police said, tried to rob the residents and then fled the scene were arrested soon after the shooting ended.

Clearwater police said that shortly before 3 a.m. two men armed with a semi-automatic handgun and a shotgun arrived at the house and tried to rob the people at the home.

There was a struggle and the suspects exchanged gunfire with McAllister, 21, according to police.

Robert Kissick, 21, and Corey Cremenas, 18, who also live at the home, were pistol whipped, according to police.

As police responded to a report of gunshots, two men left in a 2004 Mercury Mountaineer. The SUV became disabled at Starkey Road and 126th Avenue in Largo.

Police said one of the men in the SUV, 29-year-old Richard Dell Tonkin of Largo, didn't follow commands and was bitten by a police dog. The SUV's other occupant, 28-year-old Gerald Lee Anderson of Bradenton, had been shot.

Both were taken to Bayfront Medical Center. Tonkin was released late Thursday morning and was taken to the Pinellas County Jail. Anderson's condition was not available Thursday evening, but police said he was expected to survive.

Both men face charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery and using a weapon while engaged in a criminal offense.

McAllister said the men pulled up outside the home and started yelling "What's up? What's up?"

The man armed with a handgun ran up to one of McAllister's roommates, who was standing near the front door, and began beating him with the pistol, McAllister said.

"At that point, I hit the other guy that was with him and he went down," he said. "I picked up his shotgun, started hitting him in the head with it."

The man then pulled out a handgun and fired three shots at McAllister, he said.

"I tackled him over the hedges, hit his head on the statue," McAllister said. "I choked him out until he was limp."

McAllister said he grabbed the man's handgun and went around the back of the house. When he came back to the front, one of the men started shooting at him and he returned fire. McAllister said he believes he hit one of the would-be robbers twice in the stomach.

There were six adults and two children at the house when the gunfire erupted, McAllister said. The U.S. Navy veteran, who is 5 feet 7 and 130 pounds, credited his quick reactions to his military background.

"I definitely think my training prepared me for that … situational awareness is a big thing they teach in the Navy … definitely that's what I fell back on."

Christopher McGowan, 25, said his 3-year-old son was visiting his mother at the home. The child's mother, 24-year-old Angela Finnin, lives in the home with Kissick, her boyfriend. Kissick's 2-year-old son also stays at the house.

McGowan went to the scene when he heard about the shootout.

"I was scared," said McGowan. "It makes me speechless."

A neighbor, Brittany Tipitino, 22, said she heard three shots around 3 a.m. followed by seven more a few minutes later.

Tipitino said about seven or eight people were partying at the one-story house earlier that night.

"I'm sure there is a party that goes on every single night," she said.

Police spokeswoman Beth Watts said the suspects and victims knew each other and the robbery attempt appears to be drug-related. Watts declined to release whether any drugs were found in the home.

Police notified child protection investigators about the shooting, but the children were not removed from the home.

In 1999, Anderson was convicted in Osceola County of possession of a firearm by a convicted delinquent, according to court records.

Court records show Tonkin has been convicted twice of driving under the influence in Florida. In 2007, he was charged in Pinellas County with aggravated battery but the charge was later dropped.

Jonathan McAllister, 21, was wounded during a shootout early Thursday at his home. Two men suspected of fleeing the scene were later arrested and taken to the hospital with injuries. McAllister said he shot one of the intruders.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Jonathan McAllister, 21, was wounded during a shootout early Thursday at his home. Two men suspected of fleeing the scene were later arrested and taken to the hospital with injuries. McAllister said he shot one of the intruders.

Clearwater attempted robbery, shootout


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Early-morning shootout, beatings at Clearwater home leave several hurt 08/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 13, 2010 2:53am]

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