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Trooper shot after traffic stop

State Trooper Brandon McElderry saw a red 1992 two-door Chevrolet with an expired temporary tag on Interstate 275, so he signaled the driver to pull over.

On most days, that kind of traffic stop is finished within minutes. No one gets hurt.

Wednesday, it ended with McElderry lying in the middle of a central Tampa residential street _ his right thigh bleeding from a .40-caliber gunshot wound, his eyes burning from pepper spray, a bite mark on his cheek.

"He had blood coming out of his ears, his nose," said 27-year-old Joseph Feliciano, who lives on the Southeast Seminole Heights street where McElderry was shot. "He was in total pain and agony."

Authorities say Darian Maurice Wright _ a sex offender with a history of violence against law enforcement officers _ shot McElderry with the trooper's department-issued Beretta.

The shooting was the climax to a "knock-down, drag-out" fight that began when Wright resisted McElderry, said Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin.

Within minutes of the shooting, Wright, 28, of Tampa, was in custody. McElderry, 30, of Riverview, was taken to Tampa General Hospital where he was in fair condition.

"He sprays the suspect with pepper spray, the spray blows back in his face, he keeps fighting. He gets shot, he keeps fighting," said FHP spokesman Trooper Larry Coggins.

A two-year FHP veteran, McElderry was patrolling I-275 near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard shortly after 10 a.m. when he saw Wright in the Chevrolet, police said.

Coggins said McElderry was in a Mercury Marauder, an unmarked patrol car with tinted windows that is used to target aggressive drivers. Wright got off I-275 at MLK and pulled over at N 10th Street.

The FDLE is still investigating how the confrontation started, but authorities say Wright began fighting McElderry at N 10th Street and then ran into Southeast Seminole Heights.

McElderry sprinted after Wright and caught up with him, Durkin said. Wright continued to fight as McElderry tried to take him into custody.

Jail records show Wright, who goes by the alias "Fat Cat," stands 6 feet and weighs 250 pounds.

McElderry tried to shoot pepper spray at Wright, but wind blew it back. McElderry was taking his .40-caliber Beretta from his holster when Wright grabbed it, Coggins said.

Witnesses saw Wright stand over McElderry and shoot him, Durkin said. McElderry radioed for help.

Tampa officers found Wright in the 900 block of E Chelsea Street, where he ran after trying to steal a truck from landscapers, Durkin said. They also recovered the Beretta. Officers plan to charge Wright with two counts of attempted carjacking, Durkin said.

Wright was supposed to appear in court Dec. 15 after an October arrest on two felony charges of failing to register as a sex offender, court records show. When he failed to show up an arrest warrant was issued, according to the county clerk's office.

Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report.

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