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MAN JAILED IN SLAYING

He is accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend's beau early Saturday.

Early Saturday morning, on the doorstep of the white house at the dead end of Friend Avenue, a brazen slaying took place.

Almost two days later, Clearwater police arrested Gary E. Averill Jr. on a charge of first-degree murder.

According to Clearwater police, Averill shot Michael Harris, his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend, at close range with four shots from a handgun. Then he took off.

The shooting took place at 4:36 a.m.

Police said Harris and girlfriend Barbara Hall heard a knock at the door of the house at 1364 Friend Ave.

Hall answered the door and a masked man ordered her to the ground.

The masked man pounded on the door until Harris arrived.

When Harris came to the door, Averill fired four shots into the 28-year-old, killing him, police said.

Averill, of no fixed address, ran to a getaway car where he was helped by one or more accomplices, police said.

Police spokeswoman Joelle Castelli said the motive for the shooting appeared to be a love triangle. Averill said he was told by Hall that Harris was abusing children in the home, Castelli said.

The killing showed signs of premeditation as outlined in the arrest affidavit: Friday at 7 p.m., Averill cut a hole in the fence at the edge of the property. He then went to his ex-girlfriend's house, police said, and found out when Harris would be returning.

That night, Averill had friends drive him to a business on S Missouri Avenue, where he had cut through the fence and went into the yard on Friend Avenue, according to the arrest affidavit. In the dead of night he knocked on the door.

Averill was arrested Sunday night and taken to the Pinellas County Jail where he was being held without bail.

No other arrests have been made in the case, but information has been forwarded to the State Attorney's Office about Averill and his possible accomplices.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

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