Thursday, June 21, 2018
Public safety

Fight over parking escalates to gunfire at Home Depot

TAMPA — There they were, a truck and a minivan in the Home Depot parking lot, stuck in a gridlock of steel and will.

The Ford F-150's driver wanted the Kia minivan's driver to back up so he could turn out of the parking aisle. The truck had plenty of space, the minivan driver said. So, no, she wouldn't.

Windows rolled down, expletives exchanged. One spit at the other. The other spit back, Tampa police say.

That's when minivan driver Latosha Strong's husband walked up with his friend, at about 12:40 p.m. Wednesday. They had followed Strong to the Home Depot on N Dale Mabry Highway to buy equipment for their lawn business. The parking lot is one of the busiest in town, adjacent to a complex with Whole Foods, Target and DSW just north of Interstate 275.

The men confronted the truck's driver, 35-year-old Raymond Lindstrom, police say, and fought Lindstrom as he sat in his truck. Lindstrom pulled out a gun, and the friend — John Christian, 40 — tried to grab it.

The men ran off as Lindstrom drove away, but he hit a dead-end and had to turn around. By that time, Strong's husband — Darrell Strong, 27 — was standing at the front of the Home Depot, aiming a gun police say he retrieved from his car.

Lindstrom ducked. Strong pulled the trigger twice.

About a dozen people were nearby when Strong fired, police say. He hit the car window of a handicapped man who was inside shopping. No one was injured.

Police soon arrived to sort out the stories. By 2 p.m., officers had detained Darrell Strong and Christian. They did not immediately charge anyone.

Latosha Strong, 37, insists she never spit. Standing outside the Home Depot at 3 p.m., near yellow crime scene tape, she told a Tampa Bay Times reporter that the truck's driver should have been detained — not the men who came to defend her.

"What would you do if a man spit in your wife's face and pulled a gun out on her?" Strong asked.

But what if an innocent bystander had been shot?

"The way I see it, you can't talk about ifs," said Strong, who has a lengthy arrest record that includes cocaine and theft charges. "Because no one was hurt."

Both Lindstrom and Darrell Strong had concealed weapon permits, police say. But for Strong, that wasn't enough.

At about 5:30 p.m., police announced he was being charged with aggravated assault, discharging a firearm in public and burglary for the purpose of battery. This is Darrell Strong's third arrest in Florida, state records show. The other two are traffic-related.

Christian, who has a lengthy arrest record, was charged Wednesday with burglary for the purpose of battery.

Lindstrom, records show, has no criminal history in the state.

Speaking from his home in New Port Richey later Wednesday, he says he feels terrible and is very shaken. He had simply gone to Home Depot for work to buy a tool box, air freshener and empty gas tanks.

As he was being chased, he could only think of his sons, ages 3 and 6.

"It was the worst thing I've ever been through," he said.

Lindstrom says he drew his gun only because he feared for his life as the two men fought him.

When he heard the gunshot, everything was in such a blur that for a second he didn't know if he had been shot or not.

Police have surveillance video of the shooting. Lindstrom says that witnesses corroborated his statements. He's glad police quickly pegged him as the victim. Still, he's scared that friends of his attackers might be looking for him.

"Who's to say if they hold a vengeance?" he told the Times. "I'll continue to carry my firearm legally and pray to God it never happens again."

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

   
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