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Police: Man shot spectator at St. Pete Pride with BB gun

Published Jul. 1, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — After shouting gay slurs, authorities say, a man shot a spectator on his way to Saturday's St. Pete Pride parade in the leg with a BB gun in what organizers describe as the first violent incident in the event's 11-year history.

Police arrested Cornelius Davis, 20, of St. Petersburg on a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The shooting happened at 9:25 a.m., after festivities had started but about a half an hour before the parade got under way.

Davis was being held Sunday night at the Pinellas County Jail on a $100,000 bail.

St. Petersburg police recommended in an incident report that the charge be enhanced and that Davis be held on a high bail. Police spokesmen did not return a call Sunday evening requesting more details.

The male victim, whose name was not released, wasn't taken to the hospital and his injuries were minor, said Eric Skains, the executive director of St. Pete Pride.

Skains found out about the incident while reviewing incident reports compiled by parade organizers at the end of the day.

He said the shooting didn't dampen spirits among the estimated 125,000 people who attended the state's largest gay pride event.

"No one even really noticed," Skains said.

According to a police report, Davis yelled a derogatory term for gay people at the man and a group of friends who were walking to the parade. He yelled that they should "put some clothes on" and that "this is a disgrace, there are kids around here," according to the report.

The report stated that Davis "displayed his hatred towards homosexual people."

He then fired the compressed-gas-powered BB gun, police said.

The quick arrest showed that the parade has done a "pretty good job having enough police and medical teams" available to respond quickly, Skains said.

State records show that Davis had been arrested in Florida on a felony marijuana charge of more than 20 grams in February. The charge was dropped, records show.

News researcher Natalie A. Watson contributed to this report. Charlie Frago can be reached at cfrago@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago.

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