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Two shootings in St. Petersburg were miles apart, police say

ST. PETERSBURG — Two men fell in a hail of bullets on Tuesday night — but in separate incidents, police said, in different areas of town.

Both men survived, but only one of the shootings took place at the Willis S. Johns Recreation Center at 6635 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.

Police originally reported Tuesday that both shootings had taken place outside the rec center. But on Wednesday, police offered a more accurate picture of what had happened.

Not that it will make the residents of Fossil Park feel any better. A rise in property crimes already had residents clamoring to revive the neighborhood watch program, and that was before gunshots rang out Tuesday.

"Everybody I've talked to around the neighborhood is obviously concerned," said longtime resident Jerry Woodridge, 74.

The first shooting took place about 8 miles from the neighborhood. It occurred at about 8:30 p.m. at 18th Avenue S and Grove Street, police said.

Virgil Haywood, 26, was shot twice, police said, in the hand and in the ankle, then robbed of money.

Haywood was driven to St. Petersburg General Hospital, and his condition was unknown Wednesday. Police said they are investigating the shooting as a drug-related incident.

About an hour later, at about 9:30 p.m., police said two men approached 20-year-old Devin DeLoach outside the rec center.

He was waiting for his cousin to finish cleaning up inside the center, police said, when one of the men grabbed his cell phone. Then one of the men produced a gun.

A brief struggle ensued, and then DeLoach took off. One of the men raised the barrel toward DeLoach and pulled the trigger three times.

DeLoach was hit once in the back. The two men then fled in a dark 1990s model Jeep Cherokee, police said. DeLoach was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where he was reported to be in good condition Wednesday. The investigation is continuing.

The rec center was also the scene of an incident on Friday. Police said an armed 18-year-old pointed a gun at a crowd of more than 50 teens. Using a description of the man, police said they arrested him outside the park and found two handguns on him.

Jordan Joseph Uhrinek of 8035 17th Way N was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, carrying a concealed firearm, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Officers will now be keeping a closer eye on the rec center.

"We've been assured that they're going to be extra vigilant," said recreation director Sherry McBee.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Two shootings in St. Petersburg were miles apart, police say 12/10/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 12, 2008 1:23pm]

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