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    Teen victim had been in a fight before

    Chris Fannan, 18, who died Monday after an incident at Steak n Shake, was pistol-whipped in another scuffle in April.

    By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published May 22, 2002

    TAMPA -- The killing of high school student Chris Fannan early Sunday outside a Steak n Shake in Citrus Park shocked local residents for its apparent senselessness.

    But it wasn't the first time Fannan had found himself in a dangerous situation in recent weeks.

    Fannan, the 18-year-old Sickles High student who died Monday after being punched once in the head, was pistol-whipped during a fight last month, authorities said.

    On April 13, Fannan and another Sickles student arranged to fight behind the Lifestyles Family Fitness center at Mapledale Boulevard and N Dale Mabry Highway, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    The fight lasted only a few minutes, said sheriff's Lt. Rod Reder, but a friend of the other student hit Fannan several times in the head with a semi-automatic pistol.

    Fannan and about 30 teens watching the fight fled, and Fannan called deputies from a nearby McDonald's. His injuries were minor and he was not taken to the hospital.

    Reder said the April 13 fight is under investigation. Students said the teen who pistol-whipped Fannan was a gang member, but Reder said that isn't true.

    The fight had nothing to do with the confrontation early Sunday that led to Fannan's death, Reder said.

    Fannan and a group of friends were hanging out at the Steak n Shake on Sheldon Road near the Citrus Park Mall about 4 a.m. when four men drove by in a green Honda. Someone in Fannan's group yelled to the men and they drove off. Ten minutes later the Honda returned and words were exchanged, witnesses said.

    One man in the Honda punched Fannan, who was sitting on the hood of a friend's car. Struck on the temple, Fannan fell to the ground. He never regained consciousness and died Monday at St. Joseph's Hospital.

    The Medical Examiner's Office said Fannan died from traumatic, blunt impact to the head.

    Fannan's friends said he was not involved in the verbal altercation and that he was more inclined to stop a fight than to start one.

    "Chris wasn't the type of person to back down. (But) he wouldn't start it," said T. Hernandez, 40, who worked with Fannan at an Applebee's restaurant. He was one of dozens of Fannan's friends who gathered at Sickles Tuesday night for a vigil in his honor.

    "He was just a good kid," Hernandez said. "He had a lot of friends that cared about him."

    Reder said the description of those involved in the pistol-whipping are different from the description of the man who struck Fannan early Sunday.

    Deputies are still looking for the four men in the Honda and are sorting through several leads.

    All four men were black. The man who punched Fannan was described as 19 or 20 years old, about 6 feet 2, 180 pounds, with a thin build, a 2- to 3-inch Afro hair style and several gold-capped front teeth. He was dressed in blue jeans and a white shirt.

    A second man was between 20 and 24 years old, about 6 feet, 210 pounds, stocky and with very short hair. A third was in his late teens, about 6 feet 4, 220 pounds, and muscular with a short Afro. A fourth man was 19 or 20 years old, 6 feet 2, 180 pounds, thin, with a short Afro.

    Anyone with information should call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200 or Crimestoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-TIPS.

    -- Times staff writer Josh Zimmer contributed to this report.

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