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Drive-by shooting in St. Petersburg injures one; pursuit ends with overturned cruiser

Crime scene technician Carla Mesterton documents the crashed unmarked cruiser at 11th Avenue S and 40th Street on Saturday.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Crime scene technician Carla Mesterton documents the crashed unmarked cruiser at 11th Avenue S and 40th Street on Saturday.

ST. PETERSBURG — A drive-by shooting left one man injured on Saturday afternoon, according to St. Petersburg police, and sparked a brief high-speed chase with officers.

But that chase ended, police said, when one police cruiser overturned while trying to avoid crashing into another police vehicle. One officer was briefly hospitalized with minor injuries.

As night fell on Saturday, St. Petersburg police were still looking for a the shooter in the incident earlier that day.

The first call to police was made about 12:45 p.m. Officers responded to a "person shot" call at a home in the 4800 block of 10th Avenue S.

The victim, who was not identified, was shot in the leg and was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where police said he was reported to be in stable condition. Witnesses told police he was injured in a drive-by shooting.

Several police officers responded to the area looking for a burgundy Ford Mustang with a tan top. When officers saw the Ford nearby in the Childs Park area, police said, it sped away.

Alphonso Simmons, 45, who lives on 11th Avenue S and 40th Street, was outside smoking a cigarette when he saw the pursuit.

"I saw the Mustang then a bunch of police cars zoom by," he said. "It was going so fast I couldn't tell the color."

During the pursuit, an unmarked police cruiser driving on 40th Street S swerved to avoid a marked police unit approaching 40th Street from a side street, police said.

The unmarked burgundy cruiser struck a chain-link fence, two street signs and a fire hydrant before flipping over and coming to rest on the sidewalk.

"I heard a loud bang," Simmons said, who said he watched moments later as fire personnel loaded the officer into an ambulance. "He looked like he was conscious. But he was pretty banged up. I hope he's okay."

The officer in the wrecked cruiser was also taken to Bayfront for treatment and was released later that day.

Police called off the pursuit about 1:15 p.m.

About an hour later, the Ford Mustang was found abandoned in the Pinellas Point area. Police were still looking for whoever was inside the vehicle during the shooting.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8643.

To help

Anyone with information about Saturday's shooting is asked to call St. Petersburg police at (727) 893-7780. Anonymous tipsters can call (727) 892-5000 or text police at (727) 420-8911.

Drive-by shooting in St. Petersburg injures one; pursuit ends with overturned cruiser 06/25/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 25, 2011 10:05pm]
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