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Shooting of suspect found to be justified

The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office ruled Thursday that the shooting death of a suspected burglar by three Tampa police officers Wednesday was justified. Kevin Francis Carey, 36, who had escaped from a prison work release program in Tampa on Oct. 7, was shot five or six times as he lunged at the officers with a knife in the attic of a Hyde Park town house, police said.

"He was intending to die or have someone else die," said Chief Assistant State Attorney Chris Hoyer.

Plainclothes officers, who were patrolling the Hyde Park area because of a rash of daytime burglaries, were called to 605-A S Oregon Ave. about 3 p.m. Wednesday. They discovered Carey inside the town house but couldn't coax him out. That's when tactical officers were called out, police spokesman Steve Cole said.

Three members of the team _ Detective Dan Grossi, Sgt. Larry Pinkerton and Sgt. Carson Helms _ climbed into the cramped attic, urging Carey to drop his knife and give up. The hourlong standoff ended in gunfire just before 4 p.m.

Carey had six wounds, five in his upper body and one in his leg, Cole said.

Police are not certain whether the officers fired five or six shots because one bullet may have caused two wounds, he said.

Although the officers have been cleared of legal wrongdoing, they have been placed on administrative leave with pay while the Police Department determines whether they followed the department's deadly force rules. All three officers, veterans with spotless records, have been involved in shootings before.

Pinkerton, with the department for 16 years, has been involved in three prior shootings, two of them fatal. He was cleared in all cases.

Helms, who joined the department in 1978, and Grossi, a nine-year veteran, both shot and wounded a man who fired at them inside a mobile home in 1987. The shooting was justified, officials determined.

Carey was released from Florida State Prison in August after serving 11 months of a seven-year sentence for 10 burglaries in Seminole and Orange counties, according to Department of Corrections (DOC) records. He had violated a 20-year probation sentence for other burglaries, according to DOC records.

Carey was sent to the Salvation Army work release program Aug. 7. He lived at the Salvation Army, 1603 N Florida Ave., and worked as a roofer with Hillsborough Roofing Inc., Salvation Army Director Tom Grigsbay said.

He failed to return to the center Oct. 7, and an escape warrant was issued for Carey, said Hoyer of the state attorney's office.

_ Times staff writer Kathleen Ovack contributed to this story.