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St. Petersburg officer shoots armed woman dead

ST. PETERSBURG — An officer shot and killed a woman Sunday night after police went to check on her and she pointed a revolver at the officer out a window, authorities said.

The 53-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in critical condition and later died.

Two officers and a trainee were sent to the home at 2630 13th Ave. N just after 8 p.m., after a neighbor reported the woman had been acting strangely all day, said police spokesman Bill Proffitt. The neighbor told officers the woman appeared to have mental problems.

The uniformed officers went to the woman's home and knocked on the front door, Proffitt said. When she didn't answer, an officer — not the trainee — went to knock on the back door.

But the woman appeared in a rear window by the door, pulling the blinds and pointing a Smith & Wesson .38 Special at the officer, Proffitt said.

The officer fired three times, striking her twice, Proffitt said. He said he did not know if the officer had also ordered her to drop the weapon before firing.

All three officers, whose names were not released, are on paid leave during the investigation, as is standard procedure. No officers were injured in the incident.

A neighbor, Tony Towns, 60, who lives about three doors away, said he was on his porch watching golf on television when he heard the gunshots. His beagle, Toby, fled under the bed.

He told his wife, "I know what house that came from."

Although he couldn't recall the woman's name, he said she was known to have a tumultuous home life and to show off her gun to neighbors.

Yet she was often outside tending to her garden or caring for her dogs.

She was always friendly, Towns said.

Towns saw her sitting on the front porch Sunday with a small terrier in her lap. She greeted him warmly as usual.

"I hate that she died. She was a really pleasant person," he said. "I don't know what I would have done if I was a cop."

In a similar incident about a month ago, on March 10, St. Petersburg police went to check on a man they say had doused himself in gasoline and threatened to set it afire.

Police said the man, Arthur Dixon, 43, of 5411 Fourth Ave. N, charged officers with a pair of scissors and refused to comply with orders that he drop them.

Officers outside his home fired. Dixon was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office ruled the shooting justified and cleared the two officers involved of any criminal wrongdoing.