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Tarpon Springs teen shot, killed by police officers identified

Alexander King, an 11th-grader at Tarpon Springs High School, was pointing an airsoft rifle at passing vehicles when he was shot Saturday night, police said.
Alexander King is seen in this image provided by the Tarpon Springs Police Department on Monday. Police Chief Jeffrey Young identified King, an 11th-grader at Tarpon Springs High School, as the person shot and killed by police Saturday night.
Alexander King is seen in this image provided by the Tarpon Springs Police Department on Monday. Police Chief Jeffrey Young identified King, an 11th-grader at Tarpon Springs High School, as the person shot and killed by police Saturday night. [ Tarpon Springs Police ]
Published Oct. 18
Updated Oct. 18

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating after an officer-involved shooting in Tarpon Springs that left a 17-year-old boy dead, according to the Tarpon Springs Police Department.

The boy who was shot and killed by officers Saturday night was identified during a news conference Monday as Alexander King, an 11th-grader at Tarpon Springs High School.

Police said they received several calls Saturday evening about a white male walking down N. Pinellas Avenue and pointing what appeared to be an AK-style rifle at passing vehicles.

When officers arrived at the southeast corner of the intersection of N. Pinellas Avenue and Tarpon Avenue around 9:30 p.m., they spotted King on the northwest corner of the intersection. King pointed the gun at them and at several occupied cars on the road, police said.

Responding officers took cover behind the vehicles, then fired at King, Tarpon Springs Police Chief Jeffrey Young said during the news conference Monday. Two officers fired 12 rounds — seven from a patrol rifle and five from an agency handgun, he said.

Tarpon Springs Police Chief Jeffrey Young identified Alexander King, an 11th-grader at Tarpon Springs High School, as the person shot and killed by police Saturday night after police say King pointed an airsoft rifle at passing vehicles and responding officers.
Tarpon Springs Police Chief Jeffrey Young identified Alexander King, an 11th-grader at Tarpon Springs High School, as the person shot and killed by police Saturday night after police say King pointed an airsoft rifle at passing vehicles and responding officers. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

Officers had received reports that King was possibly armed with an AK-style rifle but, according to Young, King actually was carrying an airsoft gun, which is also known as a pellet gun.

King was hit and fell to the ground. Officers then handcuffed King as a precaution, Young said, and began CPR until paramedics arrived.

King was transported to Bayonet Point Hospital, but was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m., Young said.

The officers involved in the shooting are on paid leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates, Young said. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office forensic unit also are investigating the shooting, and the outcome will be made public once investigators have completed their work, he said.

Tarpon Springs police will conduct an internal investigation, Young said.

King has had 22 interactions with law enforcement — 11 with Tarpon Springs police and 11 with other Pinellas County law enforcement agencies, Young said. Two of those were felony arrests — battery on a school board employee in 2017 and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in 2018, according to Young.

He said the department’s thoughts are with the family members of King, as well as the officers involved in the shooting.

No other information was released.

The Pinellas County school district released a statement Monday saying it was saddened by the passing of one of its students, and offering the district’s thoughts and prayers to the Tarpon Springs High School student’s family and friends.

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The district’s Student Services team will provide grief counseling for students and staff in need, the statement said.

This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.