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Drive-by shooting from sunroof

A car full of teens goes around a Checkers drive-through and a passenger shoots two people.

By MOLLY MOORHEAD
Published June 4, 2007


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PORT RICHEY - Elvin Ruko thought the man looked a little down on his luck.

Ruko was sitting at a round concrete table under a red plastic umbrella Sunday, waiting for his friend to order food at the Checkers window. Traffic buzzed past on U.S. 19.

The man, who looked about 40, wore a blue cap and jeans and had a large tumor on the back of his neck. He asked Ruko for a cigarette.

"I'm like, 'No, I don't smoke,' " Ruko, 22, told him, and the man walked on toward the highway.

Minutes later, he emerged again behind the restaurant. Someone was shooting at him from a car.

When it was all over, Port Richey police said, two people had been shot. The man who approached Ruko took a bullet to the neck and was airlifted to a hospital. The other, shot in the arm, went in an ambulance. Their names were not released.

"We hope to get some information from the video inside Checkers," Sgt. Don Young said.

Ruko and his friend, 16-year-old Jeanette Horning, stayed at the restaurant afterward to answer questions and fill out witness forms, along with others in the small crowd who witnessed the shooting.

The two had met there for a bite to eat. Horning was at the window ordering food when the man in the blue cap walked by. When he passed Horning, he voiced his admiration of her looks. She and Ruko had a laugh about it.

In the meantime, they said, a white Mitsubishi full of teenagers had circled through the drive-through.

Instead of exiting onto U.S. 19, it went by again and pulled out behind the restaurant onto Leo Kidd Avenue. A young blond woman drove.

"We weren't paying attention " Ruko said, "but then we heard shots."

A man, no older than 18, was standing up through the car's sunroof, Horning said. He was clutching a chrome handgun, arms extended, firing at the man in the cap and another man who were standing in some grass near the drive-through sign.

The strange part, Horning said, was that it all happened without warning. No yelling, no fighting.

"They just seemed to be laughing about it," she said of the people in the car. "No altercation was going on."

"I looked at him and said, 'Was that just a drive-by?' " Horning said.

The car peeled away. One of the victims disappeared, then returned when police arrived, Ruko said.

The man in the cap staggered a little, saying he had been shot, asking for someone to call 911. First, he sat down at a table. Then he slid to the ground.

Horning said he was conscious and talking until a medical helicopter took him away.

Police continued to investigate. But no crime-scene tape had been hung across the drive-through lane, and cars kept trying to enter, only to be turned away.

[Last modified June 3, 2007, 21:05:07]


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