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Georgia arrest turns up man who fled

A man suspected of firing into a crowd of more than 300 people outside the former Coliseum nightclub has been arrested after nearly a year on the lam.

Eric T. Carter, 33, had been at the top of Largo's most-wanted list since the Oct. 29 shooting, which left two people wounded. Based on witness accounts that named Carter as the shooter, Largo police obtained a warrant for his arrest a day later on an attempted second-degree murder charge.

But Carter, who has family in St. Petersburg and Georgia, was nowhere to be found.

"I think he probably laid low there for a while," said Detective Keith Barton.

But earlier this month, Carter was arrested on drug charges in Georgia, just northeast of Atlanta. Though he initially lied to police about his identity, they learned who he was and saw he was a wanted man in Pinellas County, Barton said.

He was extradited to Pinellas County last week. He arrived at the jail Saturday and was being held without bail Monday evening. A public defender has entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

The shooting occurred in the parking lot of the Coliseum, 13707 58th St. N, about 1:55 a.m., near closing time.

Earlier that night, two groups got into a fight, first inside, then outside the bar. As the bar emptied, about 20 people were throwing punches outside. Police said Carter, the boyfriend of one of the women involved in the fight, fired five shots into the crowd, hitting two bystanders.

The two people who were hit, Tracy S. Lancaster and Octavius Henderson, both of St. Petersburg, were not involved in the quarrel and were simply leaving the club, Barton said.

Police said Carter then got into his girlfriend's red Kia and drove off.

Witnesses gave Largo police a description of the car and a tag number. Pinellas sheriff's deputies later saw the vehicle about 2:15 a.m. near 66th Street and 22nd Avenue N and pursued it. Police said Carter led them to 71st Street and Fifth Avenue N, where he crashed and jumped out. He ran behind the St. Petersburg College campus and disappeared.

The Coliseum closed its doors permanently earlier this year. St. Petersburg College bought the property, which it planned to use as a parking lot.