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Undercover officer shot at gas station

ST. PETERSBURG — An undercover St. Petersburg police officer was shot multiple times after an armed robbery at a St. Petersburg gas station late Monday.

The officer was taken to Bayfront Medical Center and was in surgery early this morning. The officer's name was not released.

Police Chief Chuck Harmon and Mayor Rick Baker arrived at the hospital Monday night, as did about 50 officers who waited outside the emergency room. Officers said their injured colleague's wife also had arrived.

Just after midnight, police spokesman Bill Proffitt said the officer was in serious condition.

Police officials said three teens were in custody in connection with the shooting, which occurred about 10:20 p.m. outside the Suncoast Exxon, 3061 First Ave. N.

Assistant police Chief David DeKay said officers were working undercover surveillance when they saw a robbery in progress at the Exxon. As the robbers emerged from the store, undercover officers confronted them. A foot chase ensued.

DeKay said the officer was shot in an alley across the street from the gas station. Officers blocked off a perimeter as emergency crews treated the officer. The ambulance carrying the officer to the hospital was escorted by police cruisers.

Police officials said the surveillance began when undercover officers noticed the group of teens acting suspiciously and followed them.

Investigators now will try determine if the teens taken into custody are responsible for a string of recent convenience store robberies in which four clerks have been shot during three holdups.

The shooting Monday is similar to another incident in April in which an undercover St. Petersburg police officer was shot during surveillance of suspected robbers.

In that case, the officer was shot twice while trying to break up an armed robbery at a Blockbuster Video store in the 5100 block of 66th Street N.

The officer survived. Five young people were arrested in connection with that shooting.

Police spokesman Bill Doniel said the officer shot Monday night is a veteran. Doniel described him as "one of the nicest officers you'll ever meet."

Undercover officer shot at gas station 01/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 12:33pm]
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