CLEARWATER — A man was transported by helicopter to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries after an argument descended into gunfire beside a preschool playground Friday, authorities said.
The identity of the gunshot victim had not been released Friday evening. The shooter fled the scene on foot. Police described the suspect as a black male, about 25 years old, wearing jeans and a red shirt with white lettering.
The shooting took place steps away from the Community Pride Frances R. Breeden Child Care Center at the corner of Engman Street and Holt Avenue in Clearwater. The gunshot victim was left in the middle of the street.
Mitchell Larson, a neighborhood resident whose daughter attends the childcare center, said he was inside the preschool with his child when he heard three gunshots.
Another parent, Kelsey Mouser, 21, said she had a bad moment when she pulled up in her car to pick up her daughter at the preschool and saw police cars. Her mind immediately went to the Dec. 14 shootings in Newtown, Conn., that left 28 people, including 20 elementary school children, dead.
"I almost just had heart failure," she said. "After the Connecticut shooting, what are you supposed to think?"
Clearwater police had blocked off the crime scene Friday night and continued to investigate. They were using a canine to search for the suspect.
Peter Jamison can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4157.