Saturday, April 21, 2018
Public safety

Woman killed by St. Petersburg police had history of officer visits

ST. PETERSBURG — The woman who was shot and killed by a police officer Sunday night had a history of visits from officers who found her depressed or intoxicated in her home.

At one point, police confiscated guns Pamela Dale Kirk kept in the home, but a neighbor later got them back for her, police said.

Four times over the past three years, police committed Kirk, 53, for mental health evaluation under Florida's Baker Act. She was taken in for screening once in 2010, twice in 2011 and again last year.

In the 2012 case, Officer Christopher Dolch rode in the ambulance with Kirk to the hospital after she called a help hotline and said she mixed alcohol with 100 pills.

Dolch was the officer who shot Kirk to death on Sunday night. Police said she pointed a Smith & Wesson .38 Special at him from behind a window, prompting him to shoot at her three times through the window — hitting her twice in the chest.

Officers were summoned to Kirk's home at 2630 13th Ave. N on Sunday night after a neighbor called to ask them to check on her because she was acting strangely. Three officers arrived just after 8 p.m.

Kirk did not answer the front door of her home. Dolch, 38, went around to the back and knocked. That's when Kirk appeared in the window pointing a gun, prompting Dolch to fire, police said.

Kirk died less than two hours later at Bayfront Medical Center.

It is not clear if Dolch gave any commands or warnings before the shooting. Police on Monday said they could not say.

"There's a lot of nuances to this situation," police spokesman Bill Proffitt said. "It's an ongoing investigation, and we don't have the details. These things take time."

Dolch has worked for the department since 2006. He is a field training officer, and on Sunday he was with a trainee and another officer. Dolch left the other two at the front of the home while he went around back, police said.

Last month, officers were called to Kirk's home because she was suicidal and walking around her yard with a revolver in her hand, records show. Officers left without taking any action.

In May 2012, she first interacted with Dolch.

Dolch could hear Kirk sobbing when he first got to her home on May 2, 2012, according to a report. She refused to open the door and Dolch spoke to her through the screen.

Kirk told Dolch she was depressed and having a hard time. She wavered between calm and combative, Dolch wrote.

She eventually came outside and he rode with her in the ambulance to the hospital.

Dolch, whose personnel file contains certificates about training related to crisis situations and dealing with the mentally ill, was placed on paid leave while the department investigates this week's incident. He has not been involved in any shootings before, police said.

The other officers at the scene, Matthew Enhoffer and trainee Nicholas Cardinal, are not on leave, Proffitt said.

None of them was injured during the shooting, which also is under investigation by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office.

Police also went to Kirk's home on Feb. 1, 2011, after her daughter, who lived in New York, called police because her mother was upset about a breakup.

Police found Kirk intoxicated, Proffitt said, but they did not take her into custody because she did not display signs she was a threat to herself or others.

They did confiscate her three guns under a process referred to as "safe keeping."

Several hours later, officers were back at Kirk's home after she called police then hung up. She refused to answer the door, but officers heard her say, "Where is my gun? I'm grabbing my gun," according to a report of the incident.

Kirk opened the front door later, but wouldn't show her hands as police commanded. She closed the door and continued to cry. Police called her, and she threw the telephone out the door. When she opened the door a third time, police took her into custody under the Baker Act because she made suicidal comments.

Being held under the Baker Act does not preclude someone from having guns in Florida. [Editor's note: The issue of recovering guns after being Baker Acted was covered in this story in February.]

Kirk got her guns back in July 2011 after a neighbor provided a special power of attorney and claimed them, police said.

Kirk's family declined to comment Monday.

Times staff writer Brittany Alana Davis contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643

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