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Slain Tampa fire performer sold drugs, police say

Investigators found drugs and more than $25,000 in cash in the home where Jared Asa Semp was killed, a court document states.

TAMPA — When Tampa police searched the home where Jared Asa Semp was killed last month, they found more than $25,000 in cash and an assortment of drugs, including psilocybin mushrooms, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD tabs and THC wax.

The home, police said, “appeared to be a drug den,” and Semp, they concluded, was “a very active drug dealer.”

Those are among the details the Tampa Police Department noted in a forfeiture affidavit filed this month in Hillsborough County circuit court. A judge granted the department’s request to seize the money.

Jared Asa Semp, 31, died Sept. 24. Tampa police have said his death was a homicide.
Jared Asa Semp, 31, died Sept. 24. Tampa police have said his death was a homicide. [ Tampa Police Department ]

Semp, 31, was a performance artist who had done fire shows, using flames to create stunning visual displays.

He left behind a large network of friends and fellow performers. Those who previously spoke with the Tampa Bay Times recalled Semp as a man of generosity and kindness.

Friends said they didn’t know him as someone who would have been involved in criminal activity.

Related: Victim in Tampa homicide was fire performer, devoted friend

Information has been scarce regarding the circumstances of his death, but the forfeiture document offers new context.

Officers were called just before 7 p.m., Sept. 24, to the home at 1916 E Columbus Drive, where a man was reported to have been shot.

A witness told police that an “unidentified suspect” shot Semp in his chest, then fled, according to the court paper. Paramedics declared Semp dead at the scene.

Semp lived in the home with another man and two women. All three said in sworn statements that Semp was a drug dealer and that he had sold from the home the day of the shooting, according to the court paper.

In searching the home, police found a total of $30,637. The roommates claimed $5,600 belonged to them, but the rest was not theirs, according to the document.

Most of the remaining $25,037 was in two stacks of cash on a shelf in Semp’s bedroom. Sticky notes separated the stacks into increments of about $1,000, police wrote. Next to the stacks were bags of drugs. Officers found another $491 in Semp’s shorts.

Police described Semp’s room as “covered in various narcotics." They found more drugs elsewhere in the home, including LSD tabs in a freezer, the document states. There were bongs and mattresses on the floor, leading police to conclude the residence was a place where people “bought drugs and even used on the premises.”

State law enforcement records show Semp had no history of arrests in Florida. Court records show he had a misdemeanor theft charge in 2014. The charge was dropped after Semp went through an intervention program, records show.

The investigation of his killing is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at (800) 873-TIPS (8477).