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Police kill man they say tried to rob Largo store, threatened them

LARGO — Neighbors say Robert Hayes Roll was a loner. The 56-year-old lived by himself on a quiet cul-de-sac between Largo and Clearwater, and didn't appear to be employed.

Roll was gunned down in his driveway by three Largo police officers Saturday night in a bizarre episode: Investigators say he tried to rob a drugstore, then summoned officers to his house and threatened them.

Authorities say he was shot when he pointed at officers with a black and metal object in his hand — which later turned out to be a wallet wrapped in a chain.

The incident started around 9 p.m. when a man attempted to rob a Walgreens at Starkey Road and East Bay Drive in Largo using a BB gun. An employee foiled the robbery, and the suspect fled on foot.

While Largo police were investigating, a man called 911 and said he was the suspect. He told police to come to his home and get him, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Largo police went there, to 1636 Chateau Drive N near Clearwater, about a mile north of the Walgreens. They notified the Sheriff's Office because the home is in unincorporated Pinellas.

At the house, officers called Roll and told him to come outside with his hands empty and in clear sight. The Sheriff's Office said Roll instead threatened the officers over the phone, saying he was coming out armed and loaded.

He emerged in the driveway. The officers gave him verbal commands, but Roll ignored what they were saying and pointed at them with the object, the Sheriff's Office said.

All three officers opened fire, and Roll died at the scene.

Authorities identified the Largo police officers involved as Amanda Gay, Jorge Almeda and Adam Compton.

The Sheriff's Office and the state attorney are investigating the shooting.

Jail records list Roll as 6 feet 4 inches tall. He has a record of drunken driving, but no violent crimes, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.

He was arrested on DUI charges in Pinellas County in 1978, 1982 and 1997, records show. He pleaded no contest and served probation and had his license repeatedly suspended. He also was jailed for six months in 1980 for a burglary in Dunedin, records show.

Neighbors said Roll grew up in the house on Chateau Drive, a suburban cul-de-sac lined with well-manicured lawns. But neighbors didn't know him well.

His father died in 1995. His 92-year-old mother used to live with him, but now is in a nursing home.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

Police kill man they say tried to rob Largo store, threatened them 09/26/10 [Last modified: Sunday, September 26, 2010 7:35pm]
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