Safety Harbor man arrested after shootout in Tarpon Springs

TARPON SPRINGS — A felon was arrested Monday after an early-morning gun battle in which no one was injured, authorities said.

Liearl T. Horne, 22, of 681 12th Ave. N in Safety Harbor, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, grand theft and a probation violation.

Tarpon Springs police went to the 500 block of E Harrison Street just before 2 a.m. after receiving a report of gunshots.

When they arrived, they found a large group of people and spent shell casings that indicated at least two weapons had been fired, the news release stated.

Witnesses told police one of the shooters, later identified as Horne, drove away in a gray Dodge Charger along with three other people.

They said the man described as Horne had fired his gun before someone in the area returned fire, striking the Dodge.

Police asked other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for the car. A Pinellas County sheriff's deputy found the car near McMullen-Booth Road and Horne was arrested at 4:30 a.m.

He was found with a .40-caliber Springfield Armory handgun on the floorboard beneath him, Tarpon police said. Several .40-caliber rounds also were in the Dodge, which had bullet holes in the rear and side. The bullets matched a casing found at the shooting scene, police said.

The gun was listed as stolen out of Hillsborough County.

It's unclear what the altercation was about, but it may have started earlier at a party, then escalated into the shooting, Tarpon Springs police spokeswoman Lt. Barb Templeton said.

In September 2007, Horne, two other men and a juvenile were accused of breaking into a Clearwater home and stealing a gun safe with 16 weapons inside. They were arrested after fleeing from police, who had forced their vehicle off the road.

According to records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Horne was arrested five times before he turned 18, including charges of vehicle theft and possessing a weapon while on school grounds.

In 2009, he was convicted of burglary and resisting arrest and was sentenced to two years in jail and four years of probation.

Because Horne remained in the Pinellas County Jail while the case went through the judicial system, he received credit for 664 days served.

He then spent about six weeks in state prison before he was released in August 2009.

On Tuesday, Horne was being held without bail in the county jail.

Safety Harbor man arrested after shootout in Tarpon Springs 07/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 9:04pm]

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