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Pinellas County deputies fatally shoot man in pickup

SEMINOLE — Pinellas deputies shot and killed a man Sunday night who officials said was desperate for prescription painkillers and may have been suicidal.

Deputies shot 54-year-old Edward Allen Sliger of 11564 116th St. N in Largo after he sped away from a traffic stop, then rammed a Toyota pickup and a deputy's cruiser, sheriff's officials said.

The driver of the Toyota was hospitalized with injuries that authorities said were not life threatening.

Sliger had told his wife, Stephanie, that "he wanted to die because he was tired of being in constant pain," the Sheriff's Office said.

"He had run out of his painkillers, and I guess that was a source of stress for him," said Sgt. Tom Nestor, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.

Stephanie Sliger, 47, who spoke briefly to the St. Petersburg Times on Monday, said she was married to Sliger for 30 years.

She said her husband hurt his back and had been disabled for 10 years, but declined to discuss the nature of his injury.

"The man worked himself into disability taking care of our family," she said.

According to the Sheriff's Office, here's how the incident unfolded:

On Sunday, Sliger was drinking alcohol at the Dog House Bar and Grill, 2901 Tyrone Blvd. N, when he approached some patrons and asked for prescription pain pills. Sliger then followed the customers to the parking lot, where they asked him to leave them alone.

Sliger got into his Dodge pickup about 7 p.m. and backed into the restaurant's porch as he was leaving, deputies said.

Somehow, Stephanie Sliger learned of the incident and went to the bar with the couple's son, Edward Michael Sliger, 23.

Edward Allen Sliger had left by the time they arrived. But soon after, mother and son saw his pickup heading north on Seminole Boulevard. They followed and called St. Petersburg police, who were investigating the incident at the bar. Police transferred her to deputies because Sliger was now in their jurisdiction.

Sliger pulled off Seminole Boulevard and stopped at 110th Avenue N and 111th Way when he realized his wife was following him in a van. At this point, Sliger told his wife he wanted to die because of the pain he suffers, deputies said.

While Stephanie Sliger was outside the van, her husband rammed it as their son was inside talking on a cell phone to a dispatcher.

Sheriff's Cpl. Scott Matthews arrived just before 8 p.m. and ordered Sliger out of the pickup at gunpoint. Sliger hit the gas and struck the deputy with a side mirror before fleeing south, deputies said.

He turned around and headed north on Seminole.

A witness who saw the confrontation called the Sheriff's Office and said something that led a dispatcher to believe Sliger was armed, said Nestor, the spokesman.

Sliger stopped briefly at Walsingham Road, then drove off again, this time headed west on Walsingham.

Matthews, 38, tried to stop the vehicle by tapping the cruiser's front fender to the rear side of the pickup, authorities said.

Sliger's truck spun out, but he accelerated across Walsingham and hit a vehicle driven by Deputy Scott Reid, 43, before running into a 2002 Toyota Tacoma driven by William P. Wells III, 56, of Seminole.

The impact caused the Toyota to roll over into a ditch.

Deputies said Sliger backed into Reid's vehicle, then rammed the Toyota, with Wells still inside. It was at that point that Matthews, and Deputies William Hartigan, 36, and John Decker, 46, opened fire on Sliger.

Nestor said deputies fired because they feared for their safety and that of Wells — not because they thought Sliger had a gun. The witness later clarified that he or she had seen a deputy with a gun, not Sliger, Nestor said.

"They're ordering him to 'stop, stop, stop' and he's ramming this truck with a motorist in it. … They had no choice but to open fire and stop him," Nestor said.

Sliger was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

He does not have a criminal record in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Wells was taken to Bayfront Medical Center with injuries to his back and arm, Nestor said. On Monday evening, he was listed in fair condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

No deputies were injured.

Matthews, Hartigan and Decker were placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, which is standard procedure.

Times news researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.

Pinellas County deputies fatally shoot man in pickup 01/31/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 31, 2011 11:32pm]
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