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Standoff ends when police shoot suicidal man

The man refuses to pay for a beer at a bait shop, then holds the police at bay for nearly five hours.

Published November 7, 2005

CLEARWATER - An armed man threatening suicide was shot and wounded by authorities late Saturday night, ending a standoff that lasted nearly five hours and shut down part of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard.

Police say the man, who was tentatively identified as a 35-year-old Clearwater resident, was shot once in the upper torso and taken by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. The officer who shot him, Sgt. Mark Trulock, a 17-year veteran, was placed on paid administrative leave in accordance with department policies. No one else was injured.

According to police, the man walked into the Clearwater Bait & Tackle shop at 2999 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. before 7 p.m. Saturday. He got a beer, opened it and began drinking from the can. When a store employee asked him to pay for it, he waved a semiautomatic handgun, said he wouldn't pay for the beer, and told the employee to call the police, said police spokesman Wayne Shelor.

After the store clerk and at least one customer fled the store, the man took several beers, sat down on a bench outside and put the gun to his temple, Shelor said.

Police arrived shortly after and shut down the street from Hampton Road to McMullen-Booth Road. Over the next four hours, police negotiators spoke with the man via a cell phone provided to him by police. The man kept his gun pointed at his temple, using his other hand to open and drink beers and light cigarettes. The man said he was going to kill himself and challenged police to shoot him, Shelor said.

At about 11:40 p.m., the man stood up and walked to the door of the store, the gun still pointed at his temple. He then turned around and walked toward a number of SWAT team officers at the eastern side of the store, Shelor said. As the man approached the officers, he was shot once.

The department's Shooting Review Board, Office of Professional Standards, Criminal Investigations Division and the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office will investigate the shooting.

Trulock was cleared last year in the shooting death of a Tampa man who pointed a gun at officers during a four-hour standoff at a Clearwater motel. He was recently honored by the Fraternal Order of Police as Clearwater's Supervisor of the Year.

John Spence, owner of Clearwater Bait & Tackle, said the wounded man was a customer who lives at nearby Bay Breeze mobile home park. He said the man usually buys beer, and his beer of choice Saturday was Sparks, a malt drink with caffeine and ginseng that was being sold for $1.69 a can.

[Last modified November 7, 2005, 01:09:07]

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