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Officer accidentally shoots his leg

By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2002

Tampa police officer accidentally shot himself in the leg Friday afternoon while looking for a man wanted in a carjacking and the shooting of a University of South Florida student.

Officer John Azpeitia shot himself in the upper right thigh, said police spokeswoman Katie Hughes.

Azpeitia, 34, was treated and released from Tampa General Hospital.

Azpeitia was part of a fugitive task force searching for Jabari Armstrong, 21, who is wanted in connection with the Dec. 13 carjacking and shooting of Lai Chau. A warrant was issued for Armstrong on Friday.

Authorities thought they would find Armstrong at 1612 Idell St. in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood.

About 2:30 p.m. Friday, several unmarked police cars drove up to the yellow stucco home. Neighbors said the officers surrounded it with their weapons drawn.

They did not find Armstrong inside, and Azpeitia climbed back into his car. Hughes said Azpeitia's 9mm Glock fired as he was sitting in the driver's seat. Each officer's weapon has a round in the chamber.

"He was wearing a leg holster," Hughes said. "We are unsure whether he was putting his weapon away."

The bullet passed through flesh and did not hit bone, Hughes said. It was recovered.

The department will investigate the shooting, as it does in all cases in which an officer fires a gun.

Azpeitia has been a Tampa police officer since 1990.

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