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Cab driver's tale led to arrest in shooting

The teenager told his cabdriver he had just murdered someone, court records say. But the two teens Randolph Wang is accused of shooting Sunday night were still alive.

The shooting, authorities say, occurred over an ounce of marijuana. Afterward, Wang gave a cabdriver $700 in cash for a ride to New York and promised $700 more when they got there.

The cab hadn't made it out of Florida on Monday before the driver had heard enough from Wang, a Pasco sheriff's official said.

The cabdriver told Wang he would take him no farther and dropped the Mitchell High School student off at a bus station in downtown Jacksonville. Then he found a local sheriff's deputy to tell what he had heard.

The deputy arrested Wang, who turned 18 on Tuesday, on a charge of possessing tobacco as a minor. Wang was later booked into the Duval County Jail on two counts of attempted murder.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Charles Smith III lay in the Critical Care Unit at Community Hospital in New Port Richey. A bullet had passed through his lung, another into his neck. Craig Blanchard, 19, was being treated at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg for a shoulder gunshot wound.

The warrant for Wang's arrest gives the following account of the shooting:

Blanchard and Smith showed up at a Holiday Publix parking lot with 17-year-old Robert Maniatis, another Mitchell High School student. They rode in a Toyota 4-Runner driven by Blanchard.

They were there to meet Wang, who rode in his Chevy Altima with another man at the wheel. Maniatis and Smith got into the back seat of the Altima, where Wang handed Smith the marijuana. Smith and Maniatis jumped out and ran for the 4-Runner.

Wang pulled out a handgun, rolled down the window and fired at Smith, hitting him in the chest, neck and hand. Then he shot at the 4-Runner and hit Blanchard, sitting in the driver's seat. Maniatis jumped into the 4-Runner's driver seat in place of Blanchard, and both cars sped away.

A deputy responding to the scene found Blanchard and Smith lying in the median in the middle of U.S. 19 about 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Wang has admitted to detectives that he shot someone, but said he did it in self-defense, his arrest warrant says. He will be returned to Pasco County to face charges. Smith still was in critical condition Tuesday evening. Blanchard was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Steve Thompson covers crime in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is sthompsonsptimes.com.

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