TAMPA — A man was killed Tuesday when two members of the U.S. Marshals Service Task Force — a Tampa Police Department officer and a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputy — shot him while searching a home in Carrollwood, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.
Chronister spoke to the media Tuesday night outside of a residence at 2532 Lake Ellen Circle, where task force members fatally shot 26-year-old Victor Gamez after they say he emerged from a closet with a gun.
Chronister described the events that led task force officers to the neighborhood after a robbery Sunday.
The Sheriff’s Office asked the task force to assist in finding Pedro Gamez, 30, after a fingerprint identified him as a suspect in the robbery at a Save A Lot, 150 W Fletcher Ave., Sunday, Chronister said. Two men entered the store, filled a bag with groceries and threatened an employee with a shotgun, a Sheriff’s Office media release said Monday. The two men then got into a car with a driver and a front-seat passenger, the release said.
Two deputies who saw the car speeding without any lights on attempted a traffic stop — not knowing the car was possibly involved in a robbery — and someone inside the car shot at the deputies through the back window, according to the release.
Chronister said the investigation led to Lake Ellen Circle, where task force members on Tuesday began surveillance in the neighborhood around 4 p.m. and identified a man they believed matched the description of Pedro Gamez leaving the home with a woman. They attempted to stop their black Mercedes.
“As they give the orders to move in, these individuals begin ramming task force officer vehicles in an attempt to escape arrest,” Chronister said.
The vehicle was stopped about a block away, he said, and the driver was identified as Rico Dyches, 24. Dyches was arrested on outstanding warrants from Polk County. The woman, who was not named, was not arrested.
Dyches and the woman told task force officers that Pedro Gamez was inside the house that the pair had just left, Chronister said.
After they were unable to get Pedro Gamez to come out of the home, members of the task force called in the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team to negotiate with him, Chronister said. Eventually, Pedro Gamez emerged and was taken into custody.
Pedro Gamez told authorities that no one else was in the house. Task force members went inside to clear the house room by room, as protocol dictates, Chronister said.
When task force members entered a second-story bedroom, Victor Gamez, who had been inside a closet, suddenly opened the door and came out with his arm extended, holding a gun, Chronister said. At that point, he said, the Tampa officer and a Pinellas sheriff’s deputy both “fired multiple shots, striking the man.”
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Victor Gamez was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital North, where he later died. He was Pedro Gamez’s brother, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
No officers were injured.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating Victor Gamez’s death, Chronister said.
The Tampa police officer involved in the shooting has been with the agency for 12 years, said Tampa police Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw. The names of the officers who shot Victor Gamez were not released.
It is not known whether Victor Gamez, Dyches or the woman he was with are involved in the Save A Lot robbery, the Sheriff’s Office said, and the agency is continuing to investigate.
Pedro Gamez faces two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, tampering with physical evidence, possessing a firearm as a felon, grand theft motor vehicle and robbery with a firearm. Deputies say he also was arrested on several out-of-county warrants.
This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.