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Two found dead in home after standoff at West Tampa home; third body discovered in apartment

TAMPA — A police standoff with a Tampa tow truck driver ended Saturday with the discovery of three dead bodies in two separate residences.

Police say Robert Velazquez, 31, called his sister-in-law Saturday to say goodbye. He asked her to take care of his kids. He said there had been "a homicide."

When police arrived at the house he rented in West Tampa, they spotted a woman who was apparently dead on the kitchen floor and Velazquez inside with a gun. After a 90-minute standoff and brief shootout, Velazquez also lay dead.

Then police discovered the body of another man in an Egypt Lake area apartment who might also be a victim of Velazquez's violence.

Police were alerted about Velazquez's disturbing call to his sister-in-law at 2:30 p.m. and sent out an officer who is a trained hostage negotiator.

From then on, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said, events unfolded this way:

When police arrived at 3201 W Ivy St., Velazquez wouldn't open the door and said he had a gun and would use it. He first told police he had killed two people, then changed his story, saying he had killed just one. Then he said he hadn't killed anyone and threatened to kill himself.

The negotiator talked to Velazquez through the side door of the robin's-egg-blue, concrete block ranch house and on his cell phone for about an hour before the tactical response team arrived. Then Velazquez's phone died.

The eight-member tactical team approached the side door, which remained slightly open, and saw 26-year-old Dina Martin seemingly dead on the kitchen floor, McElroy said.

Velazquez was told to drop his gun, but he ran behind a half-wall.

Officer Amari Elmore, 35, fired a shot at the distraught man after he peeked out twice from behind the wall and aimed his gun at the police team.

McElroy said the man may have been hit by Elmore's shot because he ran down the hallway and started shooting backward. Then officers heard a single shot and a thud.

Unsure of the situation, they fired tear gas into the house and went in with masks. Officers found Martin, who had been in a relationship with Velazquez, dead on the kitchen floor. Velazquez was found dead outside the bathroom with a bullet wound to the head.

After consulting with both families, McElroy said, police decided to check on a friend and co-worker of Martin's.

When police arrived with Hills­borough County sheriff's deputies at the Lake Shores Apartments, 6803 Cavacade Drive, they found a dead man who had been shot, said J.D. Callaway, a sheriff's spokesman.

"We won't be able to release any more information tonight," Callaway said. At 10 p.m., deputies were still waiting for a search warrant to enter the apartment.

Late Saturday, police had not released the victim's name, pending notification of next of kin.

Velazquez and Martin moved into the Ivy Street house in April, said Linda Thompson, one of the house's owners.

McElroy said there had been four domestic violence calls at the house since the two moved in.

"No one was ever arrested," she said. "It was small things where they would argue, then one person would get mad and call the police."

Thompson said the couple moved into the three bedroom house with two children and a pet boa constrictor.

Martin said on a MySpace page last updated in January, that her two children, ages 7 and 2, were her life.

"I have a loving husband to be, Robert who takes care of me and our kids every day," the page reads. "He is putting me through school right now and I am so thankful for that."

Martin's page said she is 2001 graduate of Robinson Senior High.

The headline reads "Live life as if you will die tomorrow."

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or rmitchell@sptimes.com.

Two found dead in home after standoff at West Tampa home; third body discovered in apartment 08/15/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 5:00pm]
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