Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Firearms suspect held after ATF agents raid St. Petersburg home

ST. PETERSBURG — A team of federal agents on Tuesday were investigating the alleged illegal manufacture of firearms in a one-story home north of downtown.

Scott Etheridge, a supervisor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms office in Tampa, served a search warrant at the home at 3010 First St. N. Nearby homes were evacuated as well.

The owner of the home, Pierre Diligent, 59, was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon under the Baker Act, a state law that empowers police officers to take people who seem likely to harm themselves or others because of mental illness to a hospital for psychological evaluation.

Wearing a yellow tarp over his head to avoid the stares of neighbors, Diligent — a short, stout man in sweatpants — walked shakily to the patrol car on the arm of an officer.

In response to a question from a reporter, he mumbled, "I can't think."

Etheridge said ATF agents obtained the warrant after following Diligent's activities as he bought and sold guns online, and the agency is investigating whether weapons and equipment discovered at the home represent a violation of federal firearms law.

Behind yellow tape, gloved agents could be seen placing rifles in boxes.

They rented a U-Haul trailer after realizing the evidence they were collecting was too heavy to carry in a police cruiser.

Etheridge said Diligent was at home with his 12-year-old daughter at the time of the raid.

Diligent's wife, Jae, a corporate accountant, left her office in Tampa to pick up the girl.

"I don't know what's really going on," she said. "My husband has been a longtime gun collector and buyer. He just retired and liked antiquing and liked the stories of antique guns."

Jae Diligent said her husband, who typically goes by the name Peter, grew up in Vienna and Paris. He had worked as a program director at an area youth detention center before his retirement. She insisted that he was a normal retired man.

"He stayed in bed all days, somedays, and gets depressed," she said. "But that's what men do."

She called the raid on her home "traumatic."

"They are overreacting, and I felt invaded," she said. "I felt like I was taking a bath and somebody looked through the window."

Lou Buttner, 45, who lives next door at 101 30th Ave. N, said he frequently had Pierre Diligent over for beers while his wife was at work, and would tease him about the French beer he favored.

Buttner said Diligent often talked about guns and bragged about ones he had built.

Firearms suspect held after ATF agents raid St. Petersburg home 09/10/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 4:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated


    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  2. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun


    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  3. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive


    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  4. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.
  5. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.