TAMPA — A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy shot and badly wounded an armed man early Wednesday at a North Tampa apartment complex after the man refused orders to drop a gun, officials said.
The shooting happened just before 6:30 a.m. at 1538 University Woods Place in the Oak Bend apartment complex near the University of South Florida. A woman who was visiting a friend in a second-floor apartment phoned 911 and told authorities that her armed and angry boyfriend was outside. She said she could hear the man rack the gun, as if preparing to fire.
Two deputies arrived, and the man, Carlos Rivera-Rodriguez, 27, came downstairs to the parking lot. The deputies repeatedly shouted for him to drop the gun, officials said. He racked the gun again, and Deputy James Woods shot him multiple times, officials said.
"They were in fear that he was going to shoot them," said Hillsborough County sheriff's Col. Donna Lusczynski.
Rivera-Rodriguez was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in critical condition.
Woods, 44, has been on the force for 16 years, sheriff's officials said. He works for the Homeland Security Division canine unit and will be placed on leave while authorities investigate.
Rivera-Rodriguez has been arrested before on theft and marijuana possession charges, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.
Rusti Fuqua arrived home from a job interview Wednesday morning to find yellow crime scene tape blocking the way to her apartment a few doors away from the shooting scene. Detectives and forensic technicians shuffled about the scene. Her petrified Jack Russell terrier mix was waiting for her when she made her way in through a back gate.
"It scares me because I have kids," Fuqua said of the shooting. "It very well could have happened upstairs from me."
Yellow evidence markers stood propped alongside items in the grass and on the sidewalk below an outdoor stairway. A ball cap lay overturned. A backpack sat on the blacktop, paces away from a set of bullet shell casings. A black handgun lay on a ramp leading to an adjacent building.
Fuqua, who has lived at the complex for two years, said she didn't know the wounded man or his girlfriend but had recently seen them coming and going from the complex. She noticed them because they argued a lot, she said.
"They would go up and down the steps," she said. "I think one time they were arguing about keys. She wouldn't give him the keys or something."
Normally the complex is quiet, Fuqua said. But now she feels unsafe.
"This has kind of shocked me," she said. "I'm definitely going to look for a new place to live."
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Dan Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386.