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St. Petersburg police officer shoots teen who Pinellas sheriff says pointed gun at cop

The 17-year-old was taken to a local hospital.
A St. Petersburg police officer shot a 17-year-old boy Wednesday after the officer saw a gun in the teen's waistband and ordered him to drop it, and the teen instead pulled out the gun and pointed it at the officer, according to Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
A St. Petersburg police officer shot a 17-year-old boy Wednesday after the officer saw a gun in the teen's waistband and ordered him to drop it, and the teen instead pulled out the gun and pointed it at the officer, according to Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. [ Boyzell Hosey / Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Oct. 20
Updated Oct. 21

A St. Petersburg police officer shot a 17-year-old boy who police said pointed a gun at an officer Wednesday afternoon, according to Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Police received a call around 3:30 p.m. about a domestic dispute in Wildwood Park, where Christopher Deon Tonsel was arguing with a 16-year-old girl, Gualtieri said during a news conference. Tonsel had a gun and was trying to take the girl’s phone, and a witness who was not involved in the dispute called police, authorities said.

When officers arrived, Tonsel took off running, Gualtieri said. Officers interviewed the 16-year-old girl and the witness and determined there was probable cause to arrest Tonsel on a domestic battery charge, he said.

St. Petersburg K-9 Officer Leighton Williams saw Tonsel fleeing on 13th Avenue S. When he caught up to Tonsel, he saw a gun in the teen’s waistband and ordered Tonsel to drop it. The teen instead pulled out the gun and pointed it at the officer, according to Gualtieri.

Tonsel was shot once in the abdomen, Gualtieri said, and he was taken to an area hospital.

A picture of the gun Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said 17-year-old Christopher Deon Tonsel pointed at St. Petersburg K-9 Officer Leighton Williams on Wednesday.
A picture of the gun Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said 17-year-old Christopher Deon Tonsel pointed at St. Petersburg K-9 Officer Leighton Williams on Wednesday. [ Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]

The teen also is a suspect in an armed robbery of a 16-year-old and 10-year-old on Sunday, Gualtieri said. While the Sheriff’s Office has yet to determine where Tonsel got his firearm, Gualtieri said many young people steal guns out of unlocked vehicles. He encouraged members of the public not to leave their guns in their vehicles.

The shooting is being investigated by the Pinellas County Use of Deadly Force Investigative Task Force. The task force was announced by Gualtieri on July 21, 2020, about a month after a similar move was announced by Hillsborough County law enforcement agencies.

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