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'Baby, let me in,' man with knife had cried out before deputies shot him dead in domestic call

Investigators collect evidence Friday morning at the scene of a fatal shooting in the 300 block of Shell Manor Drive. Two Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies fired on a man who threatened them with a large knife. [TONY MARRERO l Times]
Published Jul. 6

RUSKIN — Luis Escamilla had a feeling something bad was about to happen at the house down the street.

Escamilla was sitting on his porch with his stepfather about 1:30 a.m. Friday when he saw a man banging on the door and window of the house on the corner of 15th Street and Shell Manor Drive.

The man was calling out to someone inside.

"He was saying, 'Baby, let me in, I'm sorry this happened, it ain't gonna happen no more,'" Escamilla recalled.

Suddenly, sheriff's patrol cars appeared, their red and blue lights flashing.

A moment later, shots rang out.

"I heard the deputies say, 'Drop what you got in your hand," said Escamilla, 46. "He came toward one deputy and that's when they shot him."

The man, 37, was brandishing a large knife and refused commands to drop it, forcing two deputies to open fire, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He died at the hospital. The Sheriff's Office had not released his name Friday afternoon.

The incident began with a call about a domestic dispute at the home in the 300 block of Shell Manor Drive, in the Shell Point Manor subdivision, Chief Deputy Donna Lusczynski said at a news conference.

When deputies arrived, they saw the man in the street holding a knife, Lusczynski said.

The man refused commands to put down the knife and approached the deputies in a threatening manner, she said. Master Deputy Jessica Ennis and Deputy Daniel DeLima fired on the man, hitting him a number of times.

A woman and several children were inside the home.

"They gave multiple commands to drop the knife, he continued to approach them with the knife raised and they unfortunately had to use deadly force to save their lives," Lusczynski said.

Escamilla, the neighbor, said the man fell to the ground and was "flopping like a fish," shouting, "I'm hurt, I'm hurt."

The man was taken by medical helicopter to Tampa General Hospital to undergo surgery. He died there later Friday morning.

Forensics workers and detectives were at the scene through the morning. Yellow crime scene tape ringed the block, and evidence markers dotted the ground in front of the two-story, olive green house.

The man has a lengthy criminal history, with some 30 felony charges including aggravated assault, aggravated child abuse, carjacking, domestic battery, being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a concealed firearm, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Ennis, 37, has been with the Sheriff's Office for 12 years and is assigned to the K-9 division, Lusczynski said. DeLima, 25, joined the office three years ago.

Both deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.

"We're just so thankful that the deputies involved in this incident are unharmed," Lusczynski said.

The shooting marks the third time this year that a Hillsborough deputy has shot someone in the line of duty.

On March 19, Master Deputy Kevin Stabins shot 52-year-old Jesus Calderon while responding to an attempted suicide call at a home off Bearss Avenue in Tampa. Stabins told investigators Calderon refused to drop a knife he was holding and advanced toward him. The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office found that the shooting was justified.

One week later, Deputy Daniel Estanislau shot a 17-year-old boy after responding to a domestic violence call at an apartment complex on Skipper Road. The Sheriff's Office has said the boy refused to commands to drop an object he was holding. Investigators did not find a weapon on the boy.

Estanislau's attorney, Steve Romine, told the Tampa Bay Times the teen was holding a cell phone that Estanislau thought was a gun. The shooting is still under investigation.

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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