Abhi Raghunathan, Times Staff Writer

Abhi Raghunathan covers crime for the St. Petersburg Times. He joined the paper in 2004 and is a graduate of Princeton University.

Phone: (727) 893-8472

E-mail: araghunathan@tampabay.com

  1. Few drivers slowing down to save gas

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — You might wonder if skyrocketing gasoline prices are persuading drivers to slow down, maybe even adhere to the speed limit. But drive any major local highway and you'll see that isn't happening.

    A St. Petersburg Times reporter driving the speed limit of 65 mph on Interstate 275 from downtown Tampa to St. Petersburg across the Howard Frankland Bridge last week might have been the only one driving under 70 mph....

  2. Artifacts stolen from Weedon Island Preserve

    Crime

    An artifact thief in St. Petersburg? That's right. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says someone broke into a display case at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center over the weekend and stole two pins made of deer bone and a fossilized bone ornament that may have been used as a pendant. Here's a look at the theft, and the Weedon people.

    What happened?

    The Sheriff's Office says someone broke into a clear plastic display case over the weekend by loosening screws, holding a window open, and reaching in to take the three artifacts, each of which are more than 1,000 years old. It appears to have happened when the center was open, but few people were inside....

    The items were taken from a plastic case at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center.
  3. Deadly shots may redefine young police officer

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — He's the former captain of his high school wrestling team, an ex-Marine who served in Iraq, a rookie police officer praised for sound judgment and tapped for a prestigious assignment.

    Now, at age 24, Terrence Nemeth is facing something most cops never confront in their careers.

    This much is undisputed: Nemeth shot and killed a 17-year-old high school student after a raucous graduation party last Saturday night....

    Terrence Nemeth, a 2001 Northeast High School grad, joined the police force in 2007.
  4. Despite crowd, no witness will discuss police shooting

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Frustrated and desperate for leads, police on Wednesday issued an unusual public plea for eyewitnesses to Saturday night's shooting of a teenager by a police officer outside a chaotic graduation party.

    More than 250 teenagers attended the party, but not one has stepped forward to say what happened to Javon Dawson. Even the victim's brother has refused to cooperate, police said. ...

  5. Details of teen's shooting released

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — A 17-year-old Gibbs High School student who was killed outside a chaotic graduation party Saturday night was trying to flee when he pointed his revolver at a police officer, who then shot him dead, police said Monday.

    Police also released a photograph of the snub-nosed revolver they said they found near Javon Dawson's body after the shooting. The black .38-caliber Smith & Wesson had three spent shell casings. ...

    DeAngelo Dawson, 12, protests the killing of his brother Javon Dawson at a demonstration outside St. Petersburg police headquarters Monday. Javon Dawson was shot by an officer. 
  6. St. Petersburg police fatally shoot teenager at graduation party

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old who was firing a gun outside a weekend high school graduation party, police said Sunday.

    The shooting took place about 10:45 p.m. Saturday outside the Shining Light Masonic Lodge in the 3100 block of Freemont Terrace S, where several hundred teenagers had gathered for a party.

    Police said so many teens showed up they spilled out into the streets, blocking traffic. In addition, neighbors complained about the noise, they said. ...

  7. State Rep. Rick Kriseman loses his house to early morning fire

    Fire

    ST. PETERSBURG — An early-morning fire that may have been caused by an electrical problem in the attic destroyed the home of state Rep. Rick Kriseman on Wednesday, fire officials said.

    The fire broke out around 12:30 a.m., about two hours after a dogsitter left the home, St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue officials said. It took firefighters about 25 minutes to bring the blaze under control....

    Little roof remains over the kitchen in the burned home of Rep. Rick Kriseman at 6044 Third Ave N, St. Petersburg.
  8. St. Petersburg police to bolster presence in 3 neighborhoods

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Amid criticism from some City Council members and community activists, the Police Department is increasing its presence in three neighborhoods and cracking down on gun crimes.

    Police will be more visible in the Harbordale, Childs Park and Palmetto Park neighborhoods, assistant police Chief Luke Williams said in a recent memo.

    The department also plans to make more arrests for gun crimes even when victims are reluctant to cooperate....

  9. St. Petersburg police chief defends low crime statistics

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police Chief Chuck Harmon says the numbers he uses to measure the department's success are moving in the right direction.

    Violent crimes are down in the city and Midtown. Auto thefts are down nearly 50 percent. And the department has more sworn officers on the streets than ever.

    But some City Council members and residents say they've never been angrier about crime. They cite reports of low morale among officers, gunshots in neighborhoods and constituents upset about drug houses that pop up down the street....

  10. Random shootings unnerve St. Petersburg residents

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Shirly Davis, 14, was watching Bay News 9 in the living room with relatives on Monday when she heard gunshots just before midnight.

    Everyone ducked for cover.

    Someone fired several shots at her home at 3928 Eighth Ave. S, then took off, police said. One bullet flew into the house and others smashed into cars in the driveway.

    "We have no clue who fired," Shirly said. "We were scared."...

  11. Birthday gift blamed for cop shooting

    Crime

    LARGO — The shooting that nearly killed a police detective on April 30 began because two robbers needed money to buy their getaway driver a pair of Coach shoes for her 19th birthday, a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office detective testified Friday.

    Danielle Karlau told investigators that Joseph Hollings Jr. had promised her the pricey shoes for her April 26 birthday, according to Detective John Spoor....

  12. Sex case against Gospel of Truth members falls apart

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — The accusations involving the Christmas house were stunning.

    St. Petersburg police said they had uncovered horrific allegations about young children being sexually assaulted by a member of the Gospel of Truth ministry and forced to have sex with each other as other members watched in the 1980s and early 1990s.

    Three ministry members were arrested on charges related to capital sexual battery in April 2006. Until the arrests, the ministry had been best known for its enormous Christmas light display at 2719 Oakdale St. S, one of the largest in the country....

    Ted Kresge poses in 2006 while the Gospel of Truth house was decorated for Christmas. On Monday, he said he felt vindicated.
  13. Bailiffs were justified in shooting gunman

    Crime

    LARGO — State prosecutors concluded that bailiffs were justified in killing a gunman who opened fire last week in the lobby of the County Courthouse.

    But a mystery remains: What prompted Glen Powell's unprovoked attack?

    Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe ruled the May 7 shooting by bailiffs B.J. Lyons and Marvin Glover "justifiable homicide." He also praised them for preventing "what could have been a tragic incident of immeasurable proportions for the patrons and employees of the St. Petersburg courthouse." ...

    Serveillance video shows deputies shooting gunman dead.
  14. Motive behind courthouse attack unclear

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Glen Powell walked into the downtown St. Petersburg courthouse with enough firepower to carry out a massacre: a .45-caliber SIG Sauer semiautomatic handgun, 79 rounds of ammunition, a gas mask and a large knife, the Pinellas Sheriff's Office revealed Thursday.

    In 12 seconds, it was all over.

    Powell, 30, fired twice at two bailiffs working at the security checkpoint near the front door on Wednesday. One shot missed and the other bounced off one bailiff's microphone and grazed his left shoulder. The two bailiffs fired at Powell 11 times, killing him....

  15. Gunman's motive remains unclear

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Glen Powell was an Eagle Scout and a champion wrestler who helped keep Brandon High School's decades-long winning streak alive.

    But on Wednesday afternoon, the Air Force veteran walked into the county courthouse in downtown St. Petersburg, pulled a gun out of his backpack and opened fire on two bailiffs.

    When the shooting ended, one bailiff was injured, Powell was dead and the courthouse disintegrated into pandemonium and terror. ...

    Deputy B.J. Lyons leaves the courthouse after Wednesday’s shooting. A bullet hit a microphone on his left shoulder then grazed him. He returned fire.