ST. PETERSBURG — Landscaper Ted Scarpino was admiring his handiwork Tuesday afternoon when four, five, maybe six gunshots rang out.
Then a woman staggered to the side of the house next door, clutching herself in pain, and collapsed.
Scarpino ran into a neighbor's house. He knew the gunman was right behind her.
"I did not want him shooting me," he said.
Scarpino was right. William Bolling, 72, emerged from the back yard carrying the .38-caliber revolver that St. Petersburg police said he used to repeatedly shoot his wife of four decades, Vicki, 64.
The husband was charged with attempted murder. The wife spent several hours undergoing emergency surgery at Bayfront Medical Center, police said. She was in critical condition late Tuesday.
Police said some kind of argument led to the shooting, but they could not say what the husband and wife argued about. William Bolling, though, had been drinking before the shooting, police said.
Scarpino, 47, watched from inside a neighbor's home as the husband appeared to say something to his injured wife. Bolling went back inside and came back out without the gun, the witness said, then spoke to his wife again. She writhed in pain on the ground.
St. Petersburg police said the husband made one of the calls to 911 that they received about the shooting in the Harbor Isle subdivision.
"He made a statement to the operator that he had shot his wife," said police spokesman Mike Puetz.
The first call to 911 was made around 2:36 p.m., when police were told that a woman was lying in the yard after being shot and that the husband was standing outside 1433 74th Circle NE with a gun.
According to police, the couple were arguing when the husband fired the first gunshot inside the home. The wife fled to the back porch but was hit several times in the lower body when the husband started firing outside through an open window, police said.
Scarpino also described the police response: The first officers at the scene dragged the injured woman away from her home. Then several officers surrounded the couple's home and were inspecting the back yard when the garage door started rising.
Officers drew their weapons and waited. William Bolling walked outside, his hands in the air.
An officer faced him carrying a ballistic shield in one arm and his sidearm in the other. Two other officers, guns also drawn, took cover behind the shield carrier.
Then officers threw Bolling onto the ground, handcuffed him and took him to police headquarters for questioning.
The couple has grown children, one of whom was briefly at the scene.
According to records, Bolling has never been arrested before in Florida.
At 7 p.m., the husband — handcuffed, dressed in white coveralls — was taken to a police cruiser for the ride to the county jail. He appeared to be disoriented and acted belligerent toward the TV cameras waiting for him.
"I don't have to talk to you," he said.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8472.