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    Man shoots, kills gun-wielding intruder

    It is unlikely that Raymond Lopez, 30, will be charged because he was protecting himself and his home. Officials are still searching for the intruder's accomplice.

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 23, 2002

    TAMPA -- As guests were leaving Raymond Lopez's home about 12:50 a.m. Saturday, two masked men walked up with handguns, threatening the guests and herding them toward the carport, authorities say.

    Lopez ran to his bedroom and grabbed two guns.

    As he did, one of the masked men came into the house and ran toward him. Lopez started shooting -- it was unclear how many times -- and the intruder fell, said Hillsborough sheriff's Lt. Harold Winsett. The intruder died inside the home at 3909 W Crawford St.

    The second masked man ran. He had not been found Saturday evening, nor had the dead man been identified.

    Charges against Lopez, 30, are unlikely, Winsett said.

    "It certainly appears this guy was defending himself and his home," he said.

    Winsett said it did not appear that the intruder had fired his gun.

    The intruder who fled was white, 5 feet 10, wearing a pink bandanna and light-colored shirt. Winsett said he did not know if there was a getaway car.

    Lopez could not be reached for comment Saturday afternoon. A woman outside the home declined to comment.

    She paced and talked solemnly on a cellular phone while a man wearing rubber gloves walked into the home from a cleaning company van.

    The shooting occurred in a neighborhood 1 mile north of Hillsborough Avenue and just west of Dale Mabry Highway. Cuban and American flags are common. So are bars across the windows.

    Neighbors said they heard the commotion Saturday morning but didn't know what had happened.

    "It used to be a good neighborhood," said Maeling Santana, 18, a resident of three years.

    She said there had been several drug arrests a few blocks away in recent months. Last month her friend's car was set on fire.

    Lou Hobbs, 64, who lives across the street from Lopez, wasn't sympathetic toward the dead man.

    "He ought to be dead," said Hobbs.

    Hobbs said the shooting was an isolated incident. The neighborhood isn't getting rougher, he said. But the world around it is.

    "Anything can happen nowadays," he said.

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