Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Public safety

Police fatally shoot marijuana suspect in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — Police trying to arrest the subject of an undercover drug investigation shot and killed the man Tuesday after they say he pointed a gun at them inside his Seminole Heights home.

The man leveled a gun at the officers after a tactical team found him in the back bedroom of the small home at 906 W Knollwood St. in northwest Seminole Heights, said a Tampa police spokeswoman.

Undercover Tampa police officers had made a series of purchases of hydroponic marijuana at the address from the man who was shot but who authorities have not identified. The marijuana was not grown on the property, just sold there, said spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

"At each one of these transactions, the suspect was armed," McElroy said.

When a SWAT team arrived at the home Tuesday, an officer knocked and announced the police presence, McElroy said. When no one answered the door, the team entered the house and encountered an unarmed man in the front room who immediately surrendered.

As officers moved farther into the 700-square-foot, one-bedroom home, they entered a room in the back. There they encountered the man police say had been selling investigators marijuana and, they say, he was pointing a gun at them.

McElroy said it was not clear late Tuesday how many officers fired their weapons, but the suspect was struck at least once. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died.

Peter Zwolinski, who identified himself as the owner of the property, said he had been renting the home to one of the men for about a year. He said he has been in the house regularly since, making kitchen renovations, and never saw any activity that would cause him alarm.

He also said he happened to bring up guns in a casual conversation and that his tenant said he didn't own any.

"I talked to all of the neighbors here," said Zwolinksi of Land O'Lakes. "They never told me there were any problems."

McElroy, however, said the investigation was initiated after a complaint.

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