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    Police still mum on dead man's ID

    Relatives of the victim, who was found dead with a gunshot wound in his left side while in his car, had not been notified, police say.

    By KELLEY BENHAM
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published October 24, 2002


    TARPON SPRINGS -- A day after a man was found dead in his car with an apparent gunshot wound in his side, police still aren't saying who he is or how he died.

    Police think they have identified the man but were not ready Wednesday to release his name because his family had not been notified, Capt. Robert Kochen said.

    Police are not sure whether the man lived in the area, Kochen said, but they think his family lives out of state.

    If police have learned anything else about the death, they are not saying.

    "We are still conducting the investigation," Kochen said. "We have to balance the facts and circumstances as they arise."

    The man is white and in his early 20s, police said. A witness who discovered him in the car said he had dark blond hair, blue eyes and a tatoo on his left arm. He was wearing gray shorts and no shirt or shoes.

    He was driving a silver Honda Civic southbound on Bayshore Drive on Tuesday afternoon when his car careened off the road, rolled through several front yards and ran into a bush. Sometime later, around 2 p.m., a construction worker noticed the car sitting in a yard with its windows down and radio blaring. He checked on the man and found no pulse.

    Paramedics found what appeared to be a gunshot wound in his left side, fire Chief Kevin Bowman said. Police are calling the wound "nonaccidental trauma." They think he was wounded some distance from where he was found, Kochen said.

    Police have impounded the Honda, which had Michigan plates and a number of accessories, including a new stereo system, alloy rims and special taillights.

    Witnesses reported seeing the car around noon Tuesday at Fred H. Howard Park, about a mile from where it was found.

    An autopsy was performed Wednesday by the Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office, but police said late Wednesday afternoon that they had not received the results.

    "We'll release more as it becomes available," Kochen said.

    In the meantime, police are considering the death suspicious. They have not ruled it a homicide.

    "We're still looking into all that," Kochen said.

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