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Tampa police kill suspect in convenience store shooting

TAMPA — When he heard the gunshot last week, Leamon Williams could do nothing but react.

A botched robbery Aug. 17 afternoon left his friend Yasin "Jason" Sara with a bullet hole through his chest and blood running down his head.

On Wednesday, Williams learned of a second shooting.

This time, he paused and soaked in a feeling that justice had been served.

Across town, 26-year-old Carlos Roberto Laboy was fatally shot by police attempting to arrest him in the armed robbery that has kept Sara hospitalized and fighting for his life.

Police thought he was armed but he wasn't, they said.

Laboy was hit near his hip by one bullet and taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he died just after 5:30 a.m.

"I hate to see anybody get hurt, and I never wish death on anyone, but I'm glad they got him," Williams said. "He chose his destiny."

Just after midnight Wednesday police arrived at a duplex neighbors say belongs to two sisters at 1917 Mulberry Drive. They had learned that Laboy was staying there.

When he came out of the house, police said Laboy crouched down and made a sudden move for his waistband with both hands, ignoring officers' instructions to freeze.

Believing Laboy was going for a gun, officer Greg Pryor, 34, fired his weapon, police said.

"I heard three gunshots and I froze," said neighbor Susan Sharp, 54. "When I looked out the window there were like 20 cop cars out there. I thought we were being raided."

Only later did police learn that Laboy was unarmed, spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

No police officers were injured.

While Laboy rode in an ambulance to the hospital, police learned Sara, the 55-year-old convenience store owner, had taken a turn for the worse. He was rushed into surgery and remains in critical but stable condition at St. Joseph's Hospital.

Williams said this wasn't the first time the Y & S Supermarket, 1202 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., had been targeted in a crime.

But they had never before taken such a violent turn.

"He's the kind of guy that's going to protect what's his," Williams said. "This time, I wish he had just given it up."

Last week, Williams, who heard muffled gunshots from the store next door, called 911 and stayed with his friend and Sara's wife and two young children until police arrived.

Police had been searching for Sara's shooter for five days when an informer turned in the gun police said was used in the attack and led officers to the man believed to have been the getaway driver, Pedro Jose Torres.

Torres, 23, confessed to the crime after his Tuesday arrest and named Laboy as the man who shot Sara, police said.

Torres and Laboy met while Laboy was serving two years in prison, police said.

It was not immediately clear how Laboy knew the two women he was staying with Wednesday.

But according to landlord Joel Gray, he only had been there for about a week — since right around the time of the convenience store robbery.

Laboy had an extensive criminal history in Hillsborough County, according to jail records.

Starting as a juvenile in 1999, Laboy had been arrested 27 times on charges that included car theft, drug possession with intent to sell, battery, assault, burglary, criminal mischief and domestic violence.

He served two years in prison for burglary in 2005.

Pryor, an officer with nine years of law enforcement experience, was put on paid administrative leave until the shooting investigation is complete, which is standard procedure in police shootings.

According to police records Pryor had never fired his weapon on duty before and has been praised by supervisors for displaying "good judgment while also trying to ensure his safety and that of others."

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@sptimes.com.

Tampa police kill suspect in convenience store shooting 08/24/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 11:53pm]
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