Sunday, February 25, 2018
Public safety

Man accused in chiropractor's office shooting arrested, then dies

HOLIDAY — Two months ago, Jaime Velez burst into a chiropractor's office carrying a .45-caliber pistol.

The chiropractor, Lenny Linardos, gunned him down on the office floor in what deputies would later call self-defense.

On Friday, after weeks in a hospital and surgery and rehabilitation and turning himself in on an aggravated assault charge, Velez was booked into jail and photographed wearing a back brace.

He posted $15,000 bail and went back to his mother's house in Tampa. Hours later, authorities say, the 34-year-old Velez died from his injuries.

Linardos, 46, would later tell deputies the shooting "was all over a girl." Velez told investigators that he had received text messages from Linardos on Feb. 17, saying that Velez's girlfriend was there engaging in sex acts with the chiropractor.

The men were friends on Facebook around the time of the shooting. Hours before their confrontation, Linardos left a comment on a photo of Velez kissing a pregnant woman's belly.

In the caption, Velez wrote about being a "right man ... no more games, lies & deceit. Family first." In the comments section below the photo Linardos responded: "Haha you just lied"

Investigators said Velez went to West Coast Spine and Injury Center, on U.S. 19 in Holiday, and walked in the back door with a Springfield .45 in his waistband.

Velez, according to records, was fresh out of the New York State Prison system, most recently being placed on parole in 2009 after a five-year sentence for attempted robbery.

He confronted Lindardos, according to an arrest report, raised the gun and declared, "These are your last moments!"

Linardos, the report says, grabbed a Glock 9mm and fired in self-defense. Bullets hit Velez in the leg and groin. A third stuck in his lower spine, paralyzing him from the waist down, said his attorney, Gil Sanchez.

Velez was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point where he remained until about two weeks ago, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office. He stayed at his mother's home after his release, using a wheelchair and a back brace. When a warrant was issued for his arrest, Sanchez advised Velez to turn himself in.

Velez was booked into the Land O'Lakes jail on Friday morning. He was held for five hours before being released on bail that his mother paid. She noticed he was pale when he got out, Sanchez said. Velez vomited on the way home from the jail.

Sanchez declined to go into detail but said Velez's health deteriorated that night. He died at home in his mother's arms and was pronounced dead early Saturday at a nearby hospital. He left behind a fiancee and a 6-week-old child, Sanchez said.

Sanchez says he plans to pursue a wrongful death case against Linardos. He is also investigating whether any civil rights violations happened while Velez was in jail. He said deputies questioned Velez, even though he asked for a lawyer.

"This was not an innocent party that just had some person show up," Sanchez said of Linardos. "There's a lot more to this story than just a simple self-defense case."

A medical examiner's report lists the cause of death as "injuries from homicidal violence."

Pasco Detective Lisa Schoneman said it is not unusual for people to die months or years later from gunshot injuries. The death will not change detectives' decision to clear Linardos in the case, she said. The State Attorney's Office is looking into the case.

A call to Linardos' office was not returned on Monday.

Contact Alex Orlando at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

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