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Victim describes shooting to police

Who shot William Lajara Thursday night and why? The man's story as told to deputies is full of mystery.

By CARY DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 14, 2002


Imagine stopping on a dark, remote road to help someone who has waved you down, only to have that person shoot you three times, twice in the face and once in the neck. Then imagine driving away.

You pass a hospital; but instead of stopping, you keep driving. You make it home and knock on the door. Your son-in-law answers and drives you back to the same hospital you bypassed earlier. Along the way, you say nothing to him about the shooting, where it happened or why.

The next day you are in fair condition. Your vital signs are stable. You will live.

Only on a Hollywood movie set, right?

Try real life in Pasco County.

The scenario described above came straight from a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report, produced by investigators who conducted an emergency room interview Thursday night with the shooting victim, William Lajara.

Kevin Doll, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, would only say of Lajara's account: "It's unusual."

He said at this point investigators have found no evidence that casts doubt on Lajara's story.

Lajara, 42, of Port Richey was recovering Friday at Tampa General Hospital. He declined to be interviewed.

Lajara, who is listed on reports as unemployed, told investigators that he drove Thursday night to Aripeka to meet a fishing buddy named Frank. He could not recall Frank's last name or his address. On Aripeka Road, Lajara said he saw a man waving his arms. He stopped his Chevrolet Blazer and rolled down his window.

Without warning, the man fired three shots, Lajara said. Lajara tried to cover his face, he said, and one bullet pierced the web of his right hand, between his thumb and index finger. That bullet and one other lodged in his face. A third slug lodged in his neck.

He managed to drive away, he said, and headed to his house on Grant Drive in Port Richey. The report does not say how Lajara got away or whether the suspect fled.

"That's just some missing information he can't provide," Doll said.

The most direct route home for Lajara would have taken him by Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. But Lajara did not stop.

When he got home, Lajara said, he entered through the garage and knocked on the door. He didn't want to rush in and alarm his grandchildren, he said. His son-in-law, Paul Thompson, drove Lajara back to the Bayonet Point hospital. Thompson said Lajara did not talk about the shooting on the drive to the hospital. Thompson and Lajara's wife could not be reached for comment Friday.

Lajara, who has no criminal record, could offer no explanation for why someone would shoot him, according to reports.

Lajara was taken to Tampa General Hospital late Thursday to have the bullets removed. A hospital spokeswoman said Lajara likely would be released today. Thursday night, detectives went to Aripeka Road to search for clues. They found nothing. Doll said it's possible that heavy rains could have washed away all physical evidence from the incident.

-- Cary Davis can be reached at 869-6236 in west Pasco or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6236. His e-mail address is cbdavis@sptimes.com .

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