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Deputy kills bank robbery suspect

(ran NP, V editions of METRO & STATE)

By all accounts, Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Steve Favors stood alone in the street, his .45-caliber handgun drawn and aimed at the car tearing toward him across the blacktop of Memorial Highway.

In the car were a man and woman suspected of robbing four local banks since Jan. 14 and, investigators say, fresh off their latest hit.

"Stop!" Favors yelled, again and again, witnesses said. "Stop! Stop! Stop!"

But the 1982 Toyota kept coming. Favors unloaded a stream of bullets, shattering the windshield and causing the car to spin to a stop.

Moments later, the man, who had been driving, lay dead and covered by a sheet on the pavement. His female companion sat in the back of a patrol car, handcuffed, crying and splattered.

Deputies provided few details about Friday's shooting, but they said events leading up to it began just after 3:30 p.m. when a man and woman robbed the First National Bank at 8809 W Waters Ave. Just as in the other local robberies since Jan. 14, they slipped the teller a note demanding money.

Favors, who was nearby, heard a description of the getaway car and decided to wait in his unmarked patrol car near Memorial Highway and Bay Crest Drive.

He saw the white car and pursued it, said Lt. Rod Reder, sheriff's spokesman.

The couple ducked behind a Walgreens and weaved in and out of side streets, trying to shake Favors, Reder said.

Favors headed south down Memorial Highway and noticed the car was behind him. He stopped in the road and got out to confront the couple, Reder said. He said Favors approached the car and confronted the man, who at first kept his hands on the wheel and identified himself as a wanted bank robber.

But Favors told deputies he felt threatened when the man soon made a sudden move to reach for something in between the seats.

Shortly thereafter, Favors fired the first shots and the couple sped away.

It was unclear Friday whether those shots hit the car, but witnesses said it started weaving across two lanes of traffic, plowing through the median and barreling over mailboxes in front of nearby houses.

Then, the driver made a U-turn and came straight for Favors, who had chased the car on foot down the street.

"The guy floored it," said Tres Fenton-Moore, 43, who works at nearby Elite Marketing and witnessed the shooting. "The guy was coming right at (Favors). He was definitely trying to hit him."

Bill Kilichowski, who owns Elite, said that's when Favors fired five or six shots in a row. The car spun out and stopped, he said, and Favors ran to the window, screaming for the couple to put their hands up.

"But the guy was already dead," Kilichowski said. He said the woman just kept screaming, "Oh my God! Oh my God!"

Authorities did not release the the man's name, saying his next of kin had not been notified. They did say he was recently released from prison after serving a sentence for bank robbery.

They identified the woman as 40-year-old Catherine Flynn. State records show she has been arrested 28 times in Florida since 1990, including multiple charges of prostitution and cocaine possession.

She remained in custody late Friday.

Investigators said they suspect the latest robberies were motivated by drugs, given their frequency and recklessness during recent days.

Favors, a 41-year-old who has been with the Sheriff's Office since 1988, will be placed on paid administrative leave pending a routine investigation into the shooting.

Reder said Favors returned to duty on Oct. 26 after serving 13 months as a military reservist.