St. Petersburg, FL – Police said the man fatally shot by officers on Wednesday during a gunfight in a grocery store parking lot was wanted on a child abuse charge and was a person of interest in a September murder.
The incident occurred at about 4 p.m. on Dec. 2 outside the Food Max grocery store on 18th Avenue S, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
It was the third fatal shooting at that business in recent months.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualitieri told reporters at a press conference on Thursday afternoon that 20-year-old Dominique Harris was known to be armed and have a history of fleeing from police, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Oh this is new. Sheriff says Dominique Harris was a person of interest in a September homicide. He was also known to carry firearms and flee from police, sheriff says. Gualtieri described the child abuse situation as Harris "beating the kid (15-year-old)" at a park.
— Kathryn Varn (@kathrynvarn) December 3, 2020
Officials said that St. Petersburg police officers attempted to capture Harris and arrest him on the child abuse charge in the Food Max parking lot.
Police said Harris tried to ram his car through a blockade of police vehicles, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Authorities said officers boxed in Harris’ vehicle and the 20 year old leaned out his car window and shot an officer at close range with a semiautomatic handgun.
Officers returned fire and a wild gunfight ensued that was captured on a bystander’s cell phone.
Shooting in St.Petersburg FL today pic.twitter.com/LAeD6wdC5V
— Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (@RaggedTrousere7) December 3, 2020
Cell phone video of the gun battle showed that one of the officers was standing on the hood of a black pickup truck firing down into the back of Harris’ vehicle.
Sheriff Gualitieri said six St. Petersburg police officers fired 50 shots at the suspect’s vehicle, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Harris was shot 38 times.
The sheriff said that Harris fired at officers “at least four times” from “point-blank range,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The detective that Harris shot was hit twice in the abdomen.
He was pulled to safety during the gunfight by another police officer, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The wounded detective was transported to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.
He remained in the hospital in stable condition on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Officials have not publicly identified the wounded detective at his own request.
Harris was transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg hospital and was pronounced dead on Wednesday night.
St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway asked residents to stay calm and “wait for the facts to come out” while the officer-involved shooting is investigated, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
At the press conference Thursday, Chief Holloway told reporters that police were trying to arrest Harris for an incident that involved an alleged attack on a 15-year-old boy.
The chief said Harris was accused of having picked the boy up and slammed him down on a basketball court, causing injuries serious enough to merit a trip to the emergency room for the victim, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
He said the child sustained bruised ribs from the impact and his parents wanted to press charges against Harris.
The investigation into the officer-involved shooting is being handled by a newly created interagency group called the Pinellas County Use Of Deadly Force Investigative Task Force, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Chief Holloway reminded residents that the new task force was “what the community asked for” and said they needed to allow time for the investigation.
“The use of deadly force task force was formed so we can show that we’re being very transparent and we’re accountable to the citizens of St. Petersburg,” he said. “The sheriff and the task force, and the state attorney’s office, will investigate the criminal matter involved in the shooting with Mr. Harris yesterday.”
The task force consists of three homicide detectives each from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Petersburg police, and the Clearwater police and one homicide detective from Pinellas Park Police, the Tampa Bay Times reported.