Thursday, January 18, 2018
Public safety

Gunman shoots former co-worker at St. Petersburg motel, kills self, police say

ST. PETERSBURG — A former security guard for a St. Petersburg motel shot the manager of that motel early Tuesday, then killed himself, police said.

The shooting was reported about 4:30 a.m. at the New Plaza Motel, 400 34th St. N. When officers arrived, they discovered the motel manager, Jerome Horacek, shot in the upper torso, St. Petersburg police said.

The gunman, Anthony Graig Taylor, 25, ran away. A police dog tracked him down, eventually finding him in a nearby vacant lot at 3462 Third Ave. N. Taylor was dead with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

Horacek was taken to Bayfront Medical Center. He was released a short time later, police said.

Police spokesman Mike Puetz said Horacek, 47, knew Taylor, who had worked as an informal security guard at the motel, keeping an eye on the place in return for payment such as reduced rent, until he was fired some months ago for arguing with motel patrons. Taylor had continued to live at the motel, Puetz said, and had held a couple of jobs since he was fired but was unable to keep them. He fell behind on his rent and was given warnings before getting served an eviction notice.

Puetz said it seemed unlikely that the shooting was an act of revenge, as Horacek was not responsible for firing or evicting the gunman.

Taylor may have been trying to rob Horacek before he shot him, but police said those details aren't clear. "It's kind of a mystery what he was planning," Puetz said.

The shooting took place in a Western Union office inside the motel building, and shattered glass from the front door littered the parking lot Tuesday morning. Police said Taylor shot out the glass while he was getting away.

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