Susie Pittman was playing outside Wednesday afternoon when she looked up and saw the neighbor woman pointing a handgun at a playmate and his dog, Bear. Afraid for the dog, Susie went for her father.
"Daddy," Bill Maple recalled his 8-year-old saying, "she's got the gun pointed at all the kids, and she's gonna shoot Bear."
Maple stormed out, collected the seven neighborhood children and the dog and went back to his mobile home.
About 15 minutes later, gunshots rang out.
Tampa police Officers Ray Sheridan and Mark Fitzanko, who had responded to a disturbance call at the Slumbering Oaks Mobile Home Park, had just shot the woman accused of pointing the gun at the children.
The officers said the woman also had pointed the .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun at them, said Tampa police spokesman Scott Guffey.
Myrtle Phillips, 56, was listed in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital late Wednesday. Guffey said he did not know how many times Phillips was hit or where. The hospital would not release that information.
According to Guffey, the officers arrived at the mobile home park, at 4901 N 22nd St., about 4 p.m. They approached Phillips' home, where she was standing behind a screened porch.
One of the officers told her twice to drop her handgun, Guffey said, but she refused. The second officer, who was standing to the woman's side, repeated the command.
As she turned toward him with the gun pointed, both officers fired, Guffey said. At least three shots were fired.
Phillips, who has an extensive criminal record, including a conviction on a 1975 second-degree homicide in Dade County, apparently did not fire, Guffey said. The officers were not injured. Guffey said Phillips' gun was loaded.
Phillips' husband told police she had shot and killed her former husband, Guffey said. No informa
tion was available on the circumstances or how much time she spent in prison. She has at least two other convictions: aggravated assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct.
According to Maple, Phillips had complained before about Bear, a large, red chow. As he collected the children Wednesday afternoon, Phillips pointed the gun at him, said Maple, 49. She also was armed with a screwdriver, he said.
He promised to put the dog, which belongs to another neighbor, in the pound and thought that was it.
"I thought the dog was gonna get shot or something," said Susie, a third-grader at Cahoon Elementary School. "Me and my friend Frankie were playing, and then she is putting a gun at the dog and Larry."
"She freaked out," said Maple. "I feel sick about what happened."
Both officers have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure after shootings. Phillips had not been charged, but the investigation is continuing, Guffey said.
Maple, who became manager of the mobile home park in January, said he had never seen Phillips act in a violent manner.
But Greg Conner, a maintenance worker who lives near Phillips, said she was unpredictable. He said she has lived at the mobile home park for about 12 years with her husband, Chuck, who also did maintenance work at the park. The couple lived there alone, he said.
"Some days she'll be okay," said Conner, noting that children often play by Phillips' mobile home. "Some days you'll walk through her yard, and she'll curse you out."