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Mystery surrounds a St. Petersburg SWAT standoff

Police SWAT teams prepare to enter a house at 4514 Ninth Ave. N in St. Petersburg, while looking for three suspects involved in the shooting of a man Wednesday morning. A nearby elementary school was put in lockout.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Police SWAT teams prepare to enter a house at 4514 Ninth Ave. N in St. Petersburg, while looking for three suspects involved in the shooting of a man Wednesday morning. A nearby elementary school was put in lockout.

ST. PETERSBURG — A day after a SWAT team standoff shook up a St. Petersburg neighborhood, police still hadn't found the mystery shooting suspects who disappeared after they were tracked to a nearby house.

And authorities learned that the victim of the early-morning shooting that led to the standoff misled them about his identity.

On Wednesday, police had released the name and photo of Ramon Jerel Flournoy, 25, as the hospitalized victim of a 7 a.m. shooting on Ninth Avenue N in which the shooters fled. But on Thursday, police said the man lied about his name, and they released the name and photo of Jermaine Ross, 33, as the victim.

Police maintain that the shooter or shooters ran into a home at 4514 Ninth Ave. N. The nine people inside — mostly women and children — were evacuated, but none of the suspects was found in the house.

Two people, including a 14-year-old girl, were handcuffed as they exited the house. Both were quickly released.

Police spokesman Bill Proffitt said the case is still under investigation, so he was limited in what he could release.

The shooting victim was treated at Bayfront Medical Center and is expected to survive. Because he went into surgery, investigators had trouble sorting out his true identity until Thursday.

The handcuffing of the two people was "protocol for the SWAT team," Proffitt said. With an armed man on the loose and hardly any description of the suspects, officers had to ensure their safety until all people in the house were identified, he said.

Police still believe at least one of the suspects was in the house the SWAT team surrounded.

A police canine picked up the scent of the suspects and tracked it directly to the house, and the officer with the dog saw someone crouching at a window.

Although the nine people in the house were cooperative and polite, Proffitt said, they gave conflicting reports about whether someone was ever in the house.

"One of the kids said someone was hiding in the crawl space," Proffitt said.

The suspect could have slipped out the back door between the time the scent was tracked and the time the house was secured by backup police, Proffitt said.

April Curry, who lives in the house, thought the suspects might have run through the yard because some rakes were tipped over. But police said the scent was in the house.

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8452.

Mystery surrounds a St. Petersburg SWAT standoff 01/08/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 5:53pm]
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