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Pasco man arrested after shots fired at Hernando detectives

HUDSON — A 19-year-old was arrested Friday morning after authorities say he fired shots at a pair of parked cars occupied by two undercover Hernando County sheriff's detectives.

The detectives were sitting in their vehicles about midnight outside Dee's Seafood & Steakhouse, 9821 Denton Ave., when a man in a 2006 Saturn Ion drove by and fired two shots, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

No one was injured. One bullet hit the restaurant. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office has not released any information about the detectives involved.

"We had detectives following up on an investigation," Hernando sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Donna Black said. "The investigation is ongoing so no details can be revealed."

The detectives followed the shooter's car and called for backup, said Kevin Doll, Pasco sheriff's spokesman.

The car was stopped more than 8 miles north of the restaurant by a deputy in a marked Hernando sheriff's cruiser, Doll said. The arrest location was listed as 14900 County Line Road.

The shooting suspect was identified as Ricardo Manuel Soto of Port Richey. He was arrested on a charge of discharging a firearm from a vehicle in public.

Soto's first arrest was at 16 for battery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was convicted, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Authorities believe Soto was the passenger in the vehicle. As the undercover detectives followed the Saturn, Soto fired a shot through the car's sunroof and injured his hand, Doll said.

Soto told investigators that shot was accidental.

The driver was not arrested. Doll would not release the driver's name.

Soto admitted to firing the gun, the arrest report says, but told investigators he "was not intending to shoot the building or the vehicles occupied by the two detectives."

Doll would not answer questions about the motive, or say whether the Sheriff's Office believes Soto purposely fired on undercover detectives, or was shooting at someone else, or just shooting without a specific target.

"Do we have an opinion on that?" Doll said. "Yes. But we're not commenting."

The Tampa Bay area has been devastated recently by the slayings of law enforcement officers in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

And there was a close call recently in New Port Richey. At 1:45 a.m. Feb. 17, a man refused to get out of a car during a traffic stop and fired at two New Port Richey police officers and a Pasco deputy. Sgt. Erik Jay could feel the bullet whiz past his head. The officers and deputy returned fire and killed the suspect: Jason Wilson, 29, a felon arrested on a concealed weapon charge in September. The case was due in court the next week.

Dee Holdaway, the former co-owner of Dee's Seafood & Steakhouse, told Bay News 9 she lives near the restaurant where the latest shots were fired.

"I heard gunshots," Holdaway said, "but that's not unusual in this neighborhood."

Soto is being held at the Pasco County jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Pasco man arrested after shots fired at Hernando detectives 03/04/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2011 6:40pm]
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