ST. PETERSBURG — The limo passengers strutted around the convenience store, flashing wads of cash after several hours at a nightclub.
Someone was watching.
Police think that blatant display of money was what transformed a night of partying into a series of shootings that sent four people to the hospital.
It began when a leased limousine from Alpha Limo Service picked up a group about 9 p.m. Tuesday near Sixth Avenue S and 29th Street. It drove them to Scene Night Club in downtown St. Petersburg, police said.
The group remained there until early morning, when the limo took them to a convenience store near Fifth Avenue S and 34th Street.
There, they flaunted their cash, catching the attention of several onlookers, police said.
The nine limo passengers got back in the vehicle, police said, and a few of their acquaintances followed in a black Nissan Altima.
That's when the trouble started.
The limo was southbound on 28th Street S about 3:45 a.m. when a black Chrysler 300 pulled up on its left and a silver Kia appeared to its right.
Police said the cars were trying to stop the limo when several shots were fired from the Chrysler.
Two men in the limo, Malik Wilson, 21, and Kendrick Handy, 27, were hit.
The limo driver pulled out a handgun and fired at the Chrysler as the limo sped away. Police did not release the limo driver's name but said he had a concealed weapons permit.
While trying to phone 911, the limo driver happened upon another crime scene near Queensboro Avenue S and 31st Street. There, about an hour earlier, investigators had found an empty, bullet-ridden Nissan Maxima with cocaine inside.
The limo driver flagged down the officers. The two injured limo passengers were taken to Bayfront Medical Center with injuries that weren't life-threatening. The limo driver told police what had happened moments earlier.
Investigators went to that location, Seventh Avenue S and 28th Street, and found the Chrysler 300 crashed into a concrete pole. The car had been reported stolen.
Inside, police said, was Anzio Fabian Dale, 17, who had been shot. Police said they also found a gun in the vehicle. The rest of the people in the car had fled.
Dale was taken to Bayfront Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. Dale, whose record includes auto theft, robbery and assaulting an officer, is expected to face charges if he survives, police said.
The other shooting victim was 21-year-old Eugene Chambers, a passenger in the Nissan Altima that had been following the limo. He was in stable condition Wednesday at Bayfront Medical Center.
Police were still searching Wednesday afternoon for the silver Kia. They said it is not the same silver Kia used to ram a police officer's cruiser on Sunday. That car was recovered recently, though no arrests have been made, police said.