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Man wounded in Palm River in dispute over dog dies

TAMPA — When Charlie Laun asked to borrow the .22-caliber rifle, they thought it was to put the dog down.

But when Robert Crouch and his father, Richard, returned from a trip to the store, the pair came home to find sheriff's deputies and a dead man next door.

"We thought he was using the gun for the dog," Robert Crouch said Friday. "So we left for a beer run, and when we got back, all hell broke loose."

Two men were shot Thursday during an apparent ongoing neighborhood dispute over a dog, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Neighbors said the men Maced and stabbed the dog with a screwdriver.

George Wesley Kearse, 24, died Thursday and Corey David Brown, 23, remained in stable condition at Tampa General Hospital, deputies said late Friday.

The men were shot at about 5:40 p.m. Thursday at the home of unidentified residents at 5718 S 16th Ave. in the Palm River neighborhood. Both men lived a couple blocks from the scene of the shooting.

Official details of the incident remain sketchy.

Deputies say Kearse and Brown went to the home earlier Thursday and had a confrontation over the dog. They left before a sheriff's deputy arrived. No one was arrested.

Later, Kearse and Brown returned, deputies said. They were shot after another confrontation.

No arrests have been made, and sheriff's officials have not said who fired the shots or what type of gun the shooter used. Authorities were still investigating the incident late Friday. It was unclear what happened to the dog.

Carl Boenig, 79, and Debra Castell, 53, live across the street.

They said four people live at the house where the shooting occurred. Two of them, Lisa and Charlie Laun, are brother and sister, and they have two dogs. Lisa's boyfriend and another friend also live there, the neighbors said.

Living conditions were bleak. Neighbors said the electricity to the house had been shut off, and some occupants have been sleeping in a shed in the back yard.

Kearse showed up at the home earlier in the day, neighbors said. He said he wanted to see how Mace worked, so he sprayed one of Lisa's dogs. He then stabbed it with a screwdriver.

"Get out of here!" Lisa screamed. Kearse left, and deputies showed up without making an arrest. Around 5 p.m., Kearse returned with Brown.

Castell was in her house when she heard a "pop pop." She went outside and saw Kearse collapsed on the lawn. Neither Castell nor Boenig knew who had done the shooting.

Kearse had an arrest record that included charges for possession of cocaine, carrying a concealed firearm and violation of probation, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report.

One man dead, another wounded in shooting

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Man wounded in Palm River in dispute over dog dies 01/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 11:43pm]
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