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St. Petersburg woman, distressed by COVID-19, shoots at police officer

The police department is encouraging anyone experiencing virus-related emotional distress to call a newly formed emotional support line at (727) 525-4464, ext. 1001.

ST. PETERSBURG — A 63-year-old woman who her family says was distressed by the coronavirus pandemic is accused of shooting at a police officer who was checking on her.

Family members of Brenda Martin asked police to check on her at about 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to St. Petersburg police. She was anxious about COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, police said, and was making "concerning statements."

An officer went to her house at 4100 block of 35th Avenue N and knocked on the door. Martin opened the door, then pointed a Taurus Model 82 .38-caliber revolver at the officer and fired, according to her arrest report.

The officer took cover and wasn’t injured. After the gunshot, Martin ran back inside and slammed the door.

Soon after, she reappeared at the door. Officers ordered her to get on the ground with her hands behind her back, her arrest report said. She did at first, police said, but then tried to get back up. She struggled with officers throughout her arrest, police said.

Related: Amid coronavirus, Tampa Bay’s crisis centers and hotlines brace for flood

Martin faces one count of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and one count of resisting arrest without violence. She was booked into the Pinellas County jail, where she was being held Tuesday in lieu of $10,150 bail.

The St. Petersburg Police Department encourages anyone experiencing emotional distress because of the pandemic to contact a newly formed emotional support call line dedicated to helping people cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. The phone line is run by the behavioral health nonprofit Directions for Living and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dial (727) 524-4464 ext. 1001 to get help.

Crisis centers across the Tampa Bay area are also prepared for coronavirus-related calls. Residents in need of emergency resources can dial 2-1-1 to get in touch with a crisis center.

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