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Man, 19, robbed, then fatally shot in the back in downtown St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Dana Kelly was sitting in his parked car on Central Avenue early Wednesday when the gunman approached.

Kelly handed over his cash, St. Petersburg police said, then jumped out of his car and tried to escape.

That's when police say the robber shot the 19-year-old in the back.

Kelly died in a hospital 40 minutes later. Now police are searching for his killer.

The shooting happened about 1:30 a.m. after Kelly left the State Theatre, 687 Central Ave. He was sitting in his white Buick LeSabre that was parked a block away outside the Dome Grill.

There were off-duty police officers at work inside the State Theatre at the time, and a witness ran inside to get them.

Kelly of 4124 Fairfield Ave. S was taken by paramedics to Bayfront Medical Center. He was shot in the upper body, but police would not say how many times.

He was pronounced dead at 2:12 a.m. His family declined to comment.

Police said they have not identified a suspect and are still interviewing witnesses.

Michael Barinkmann, a bartender at the Emerald Bar, 550 Central Ave., said he tried letting customers out of the bar about 2 a.m., but police told everyone to stay inside.

Soon after, police began escorting people to their cars, he said. Some people who had to leave their vehicles behind showed up about dawn to retrieve them.

Central Avenue remained closed as the sun rose Wednesday morning while forensic teams dusted two cars parked on each side of the LeSabre for fingerprints. Police didn't reopen Central Avenue until 8 a.m.

Michelle Mangles, owner of the Central Coffee Shoppe, was just getting to work about 6 a.m. when she noticed that the entrance to her store was blocked. Police told her to enter through the back.

The first breakfast hour was especially slow at the Dome Grill. The LeSabre was parked right outside the restaurant's front door, and police blocked most of the sidewalk on the 500 block.

Manager Nick Karamalakos said five to 10 people usually show up about 7 a.m. for Wednesday breakfast. But no one could get near the Dome on Wednesday morning, he said.

He worried that people would hear about gunfire on Central Avenue and avoid his late-night weekend dining, among other downtown bars.

"This is not the hood, man," Karamalakos said. "If that happens, anything can happen."

Times staff writer Kim Wilmath contributed to this report.

Police seek tips about shooting

St. Petersburg police ask anyone with information about this incident to call (727) 892-5000 or to text police at (727) 420-8911. Callers can remain anonymous.

Man, 19, robbed, then fatally shot in the back in downtown St. Petersburg 04/28/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 11:56pm]
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