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Fatal shooting outside downtown Tampa restaurant was self defense, prosecutors say

The shooter was being beaten by three men outside a downtown restaurant when he opened fire, prosecutors conclude.
An argument that started inside Bello Bar & Grill in downtown Tampa continued outside on Feb. 27. It ended with one man killed in a case prosecutors have determined was self-defense.
An argument that started inside Bello Bar & Grill in downtown Tampa continued outside on Feb. 27. It ended with one man killed in a case prosecutors have determined was self-defense. [ State Attorney's Office ]
Published Apr. 25|Updated Apr. 26

TAMPA — The shooter who killed a man outside a downtown Tampa restaurant on Feb. 27 was acting in self-defense and will not face criminal charges, the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office has determined.

Prosecutors said an argument inside Bello Bar & Kitchen, 903 N Franklin St., extended outside that night, where the eventual shooter was thrown to the ground and attacked by three men: Adrian Diaz, Kevin Zayas and Freddy Santiago Jr.

Prosecutors said the shooter, whose name was not released, pulled his gun and fired multiple shots, with one bullet striking Diaz, 23, in the head and killing him. Zayas and Santiago, whose ages were not available, survived and will face battery charges, prosecutors said.

A news release from the State Attorney’s Office details the events that led up to the shooting:

The victim was inside Bello Bar & Kitchen with his girlfriend when he got into an argument with Zayas, which prompted Santiago and Diaz to “crowd” around him until he left for his car. While the victim was gone, security footage captured Santiago arming himself with a butter knife and a drinking glass.

The victim then returned to the bar. Zayas walked over to him and punched him, which prompted the staff of Bello Bar & Kitchen to force the group outside. Things escalated there, with Santiago throwing the glass at the victim and stabbing him repeatedly with the butter knife.

The three then got on top of the victim and beat him. The victim got onto a knee, drew his gun and fired.

The State Attorney’s Office said the victim initially fled the scene but called 911 from a nearby intersection. Once police arrived, he returned and gave his handgun, which he has a license to carry, to officers from the Tampa Police Department.

Security cameras captured the entire encounter, the State Attorney’s Office said, which backed up the victim’s story.

“After our thorough analysis, we have determined that the facts and evidence of this incident prove that the victim reasonably believed he was in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm when he used deadly force,” the State Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Neither Zayas nor Santiago had been booked into the Hillsborough County Jail as of Monday afternoon.

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