ST. PETERSBURG — Two recently released convicts went to a game parlor Tuesday night to rob the place, police said.
They ended up in a shooting instead.
Police said Robert Lee Dawson, 29, was armed and wearing a mask when he entered the 16th Street Game Room. It appears a customer fired first, hitting Dawson in the neck. Police found Dawson dead in the doorway.
Lathierio M. Golden, 23, was shot in the hand and never fired his weapon, police said. He fled and was arrested at a hospital. He faces charges of second-degree murder, armed robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
One customer was shot in the leg. Another was injured in the head, either from a bullet or from hitting something, said police spokesman Mike Puetz. Neither was identified. The customer who fired the fatal shot left without talking to investigators and hadn't been identified Wednesday. Police want to talk to him but said the shooting likely was justifiable homicide.
About 8:45 p.m., Dawson and Golden waited for a customer to be buzzed through the locked front door of the card and billiard parlor, police said. They donned masks as they walked in behind the customer, police said.
A customer saw the men and likely fired first, police said. Golden was struck in the hand. Dawson fired but was fatally shot in the neck.
Police were still piecing together the sequence of events. "Given that these people were coming with intent to rob, the initial belief is that it's a situation that is justifiable homicide," Puetz said. A .45-caliber revolver and another weapon were found in the building, police said.
Wednesday morning, a single bullet hole was visible in the glass front door, and a blood-soaked rag lay on the ground. The gray, single-story building is surrounded by several boarded-up homes and vacant businesses.
George Michael, 53, who lives in his car nearby, described the game room as a "gambling place." Bruce Smith, a 38-year-old barber who works at Against the Grain about a block away, said he'd never heard of problems at the business, which features drawings of dice, chess pieces and a pool cue on the building.
Dawson has spent more than nine years in three separate stints in Florida prisons. He was released Oct. 31, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. He has been arrested at least nine times in Florida on charges including robbery, possession of cocaine and sexual battery, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
On Nov. 1, he was registered as a career offender, a designation given to felons who present a threat to the community, according to the FDLE.
Golden was sentenced to 15 months in prison in November 2009 for burglary and grand theft, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. He was released in September.
Police said they were investigating whether Dawson and Golden were involved in two pedestrian holdups at 1401 62nd Ave. S and the 3800 block of Seventh Street S on Monday evening.
In both cases, two armed suspects were driving a golden or tan Chevy Impala.
"Nothing's off the table at this point," Puetz said. "Anything that occurred recently that bears any similarity, we'll look at these guys."